Did you know…
Native plantings on campus support a wide variety of wildlife and are less expensive to maintain than grass or annual flowering plants?
In the summer of 2002, the Department of Biology and Microbiology installed a plot by Halsey consisting of native prairie plants. The Grounds Crew began installing native prairie plantings 6 years ago under the direction of Grant Davey, the Grounds Supervisor. Since then Buildings and Grounds has installed prairies at the Recreation and Wellness Center, Halsey, and Shapiro Park. They have also installed a strip prairie between the parking ramp and Kolf. New prairie flowers are also being added to the Kolf inclines and Horizon lawn. Historic prairies would contain plants that grow too high to be safe in a campus environment. The University hand-selects its plantings in order to keep the surrounding area safe by not planting anything that grows taller than three to four feet. These prairies provide habitat, food, and water for insects, including monarch butterflies, and birds. Prairie plantings are optimal because they require minimal watering and maintenance after the first year. It is important to manage native species and prevent the spread of invasive species. The Grounds crew is currently working on eliminating any invasives to make it an entirely native habitat. Native plants on campus provide aesthetic pleasure while also adding value to the property.
Campus plants can also provide food for people. Edible currant, gooseberry, and thimbleberries grow on the Elmwood Street side of Halsey. Aronia berries and serviceberry are found on bushes around campus. Lisa Mick, the Grounds Crew and Automotive Supervisor here on campus, has worked with crew members in initiating campus mini gardens. There are edible plants including arugula, kale, spinach, and basil that have been planted by Polk Library, and these are available for the university community to pick and eat! There have been some unfortunate instances of people clearing out an entire crop of a plant, so if you pick, please save some for the next person and to preserve the appearance of the plot. There are also black and red raspberry plants at a few locations on campus.
Prairie plants also help improve the water in the Fox River which suffers from excess sediment and phosphorus. The ERIC Lab on campus established a 25’ by 60’ prairie planting to help reduce runoff and filter the stormwater entering the river. Adjacent to most parking lots on campus you will also find a bioretention basin planted with natives to help remove sediment and pollutants from parking lot runoff before it reaches the groundwater.
The Grounds Crew and the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) have joined forces to renovate and maintain the campus community garden. It is located on 3rd Avenue, across the bridge from campus and behind the UWO Automotive shop. Anyone, including community members, are able to rent a plot out for the season to grow their own organic food. If interested, email SEAC and express your interest in reserving a plot.
If you’d like to learn more about the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations, or SIRT, it is located online at uwosh.edu/sirt and in person at 4483 Sage Hall. You can reach SIRT at 920-424-0440 and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach the Student Environmental Action Coalition, or SEAC, at email@example.com. Contact information for the Sustainability office: firstname.lastname@example.org and (920) 424-1191. The Grounds and Automotive Crew can be contacted through Lisa Mick at (920) 424-0033 and email@example.com.
See an explanation of native plants and the benefits of native landscaping.