A Sprig of Healing

A Sprig of Healing

Posted on July 11, 2017

BY SARA STERLEY, FOUNDER OF PROJECT EDEN

Grace Partner, Project Eden, seeks to reconnect people with creation and restore broken ecosystems. For the past several years, they have helped us restore the broken place of decay right here on our 146th Street Campus property. Through our partnership, Project Eden and Grace have restored the pond area, started a hardwood forest, planted an orchard and created the Project Eden Gardens that provides fresh produce to our Care Center friends. In the next few months, you may notice another exciting and beautiful restoration project underway!

When you visit the Project Eden gardens north of the north parking lot at Grace Church - 146th Street, you undoubtedly notice the “Big Field” beyond the garden plots and orchard area. This field, a remnant portion of Grace’s original 30-plus acre site, was annually rented out for commercial farming while being reserved for potential expansion needs. As Grace continues to pursue healing of the Six Broken Places, the “Big Field” is ready to become an important element in healing the broken place of decay of God’s creation. Eight acres of the roughly 10-acre site were recently seeded with native prairie wildflowers and forbs (grasses). In just a few years the field will transform into a stunningly beautiful and precious habitat for countless bees, butterflies, birds and other animals. And it will be a great place to reconnect our own lives to the awesomeness of natural creation! In fact, there will be a 1.5 mile walking path through the wildflower field, which opened on June 1.



An 8-acre wildflower prairie will also be a significant asset to the greater suburban community. The “Big Field” is likely to be fully surrounded by development within the next ten years. Because of the need to preserve habitat in this context, Project Eden has received grant assistance to make this restoration happen financially. The seed mix used will help assist the declining bee and butterfly populations, especially the Monarch butterfly which, by some accounts, is nearing endangered status.

Last but not least, we will need volunteers interested in the stewardship of our native planting projects! Our activities may include things like plant and insect identification, seed collecting, nature trail maintenance, invasive weed control and even prescribed burning (see below). Look for future announcements on how to get in on the fun!
Some Prairie Tidbits:

  • Did you know that only 0.15% of pre-settlement native prairie remains in the U.S. today? That’s only 15 acres for every 10,000 acres the land once had.

  • Most native prairie wildflowers and forbs (grasses) have a rhizome type root structure and may grow as much as 15 feet in depth.

  • A mature prairie can sequester more carbon, an important greenhouse gas, than a mature forest - and most of that storage is below ground!

  • Fire was once a natural occurrence for prairies and functioned to rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival. Today we can do prescribed burning - even in a suburban setting - by working with local fire officials. Periodic burning is one of the best methods for controlling undesirable invasive plants.

Get Involved

  1. If you are interested in helping us to care for the prairie at Grace - 146th Street, contact us!

  2. If you are interested in joining the Gardening Team, click here for more information.