A major project for the
Earth Care Task Force was approved by the Session in August
2021. The proposal was to convert an under-utilized, semi-paved area of
the church property to a habitat, in order to improve storm water management; to
benefit imperiled wild species such as frogs, bees, and butterflies; and to
enhance the property for the enjoyment and enrichment of the congregation and
Work began in September 2021 to clear and prepare the area. The section of church property that had been covered in "asphalt millings" has been converted to a habitat for plants and animals. The old millings were likely degrading the environment, and the area was not being used for any church purposes, so the millings were removed. Following that work,
seeding was done and the area was planted in two sections.
The smaller section is a rain garden that abuts the storm water pond. The rain garden was planted with wetland species and native plants that thrive in moist to wet conditions and will hold excess water during storms. Some of these were Milkweed, Iris, Joe Pyeweed and Aster. The rain garden is expected to benefit the frogs that live in the pond, and may attract beneficial insects such as dragonflies.
The larger section is a pollinator meadow that was planted with a variety of native grasses and flowering plants. The pollinator meadow was designed to attract and support native bees, moths, and butterflies -- which are important pollinators of the food we eat. The meadow may also attract monarch butterflies, which are being evaluated for listing as endangered species. Both frogs and pollinators are declining because of habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. Ocean Heights is doing our part to help these at-risk species as part of a growing network of habitat patches that are individually small but that collectively make a big difference!
We are finally seeing the results of the planting, as spring brings
green sprouts in the gardens! Additional plants may be
added over time as we discover how well certain plants thrive. Plans are also
being considered for educational opportunities about this new endeavor. We
invite you to enjoy the gardens that are growing at the rear of the property
and appreciate the beauty of nature that they provide.
These plants are indigenous to New Jersey and some might call them weeds, but even a weed can be pretty! Below are some pictures of the plants that have already started to attract wildlife. The bee's are loving the flowers!
Further reading:In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water. — DOUG TALLAMY, author of Homegrown National Park. http://homegrownnationalpark.org/
Our faith urges us to strive for eco-justice: defending and healing creation while working to assure justice for all of creation and the human beings who live in it. This call is rooted in the human vocation of “tilling and keeping” the garden from Genesis 2:15, as well as Christ’s charge to work with and for the most vulnerable. Because of their love for Christ who is firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15), churches are challenged to live in a manner consistent with God’s call to not only care for creation, but commune with creation. — Earth Care Congregations: A Guide to Greening Presbyterian Churcheshttp://www.pcusa.org/resource/earth-care-congregations-a-guide-to-greening-19772/