Since we acquired our property, we have reintroduced several acres of native tallgrass prairie using donated seed. The grass species we have planted are those that existed in these fields and throughout the region thousands of years ago when the Native Americans arrived here. They grow tall and fast and thus choke out weeds and dominate over invasive species. These grasses also provide an exceptional habitat and the seed is a source of food for birds, especially songbirds. The grasses also provide habitat for small animals and give natural filtration to remove sediments and other pollutants from floodwaters that enter our property from storm runoff and flooding of the East Fork River. The grasses produce abundant seed which we have harvested in limited quantities and shared with others who are looking to restore prairies elsewhere. Each year the grasses take over more acreage of our property that was previously planted in soybeans and corn and went to weed when farming ended in 2003.
America's Lost Landscape - The Tallgrass Prairie (PBS documentary film)
Build-A-Prairie (interactive prairie restoration)
In addition to the tall grasses, we have planted wildflowers on portions of our property. In fact, in 2009 and 2010, the teachers and students from several grades at neighboring Pattison Elementary School conducted significant research and education on native wildflowers of our area. They then coordinated the purchase of plugs of wildflowers and seeds of the same and planted both in a tilled area of our property along South Milford Road. They then studied how the various wildflowers prospered and failed to grow. They observed which of the species attracted or repelled deer and other animals. In addition to naturally beautifying our property, the students learned all about wildflowers and nature. Seeds from the wildflowers are a good source of food that attract many birds to the area. In 2010, a father of a local boy scout introduced two honeybee hives on our property. These hives contain tens of thousands of honeybees that pollenate the wildflowers while gathering nectar for the hives. Our beekeeper is hoping to have some honey in 2011.
Bats and Bees
In 2010 a volunteer purchased two bee hives, including two queens and twenty thousand honeybees. The hives were placed on our property near the community garden and open fields and quickly thrived and grew to more than 100,000 bees. We decided to relocate the hives to a more central location on the site in late summer 2010. As of the spring of 2011, one hive was lost through the winter while the other appears to be thriving. We will requeen the damaged hive and hope for success in 2011. In 2010, a local Eagle Scout Candidate also built the "bat hotel" pictured above. The bat hotel can accommodate thousands of bats. Bats typically consume large quantities of insects such a mosquitoes. They also pollenate plants and spread seeds in their habitats. Thus with these two projects we have introduced natural pollenators into our fields to help our wildflowers and our community garden thrive while controlling the mosquito population in a safe and responsible manner.