LCCAA to Create People's Garden

posted 8/18/23 -- Lorain County Community Action Agency will create a People’s Garden in Elyria designed to provide green space, create a wildlife habitat and offer educational opportunities.

“The garden brings all kinds of opportunities for learning and fostering community,” said CEO Jackie Boehnlein. “We want to create a little oasis of learning, peace and beauty that everyone can enjoy.”

The garden will be installed over the next year on six vacant parcels owned by the agency on Huron Street near Gateway Boulevard and the CSX railroad line. Cost of the 2,500 square foot project is estimated at $35,000 and will be paid for by LCCAA’s Community Services Block Grant.

People’s Gardens, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are found throughout the country serving their communities. Gardens certified under the program may grow food but also may provide homes for wildlife and pollinators. LCCAA’s garden will be designed as a waystation for migrating monarch butterflies, Boehnlein said. The native plants will include varieties of milkweed that monarchs rely on to repopulate.

Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed but also eat it. When they eat milkweed, predators find the monarchs taste bad and will associate the color patterns of monarch butterflies and caterpillars with the bad flavor. This protects monarchs from predators, researchers say.

The project will also include a rain garden, native bee and pollinator boxes, friendly fencing, benches and educational signage. Signage will include information about giving safe harbor to monarchs and other pollinators as well as education about sustainable gardening practices.

“We’re excited to get the project underway,” Boehnlein said. “Installation will take about a year and it will be several years until the plants mature to their full glory. Butterflies capture the imagination and make people feel hopeful. We look forward to sharing the space with community groups and school programs.”

Boehnlein said installation will begin in early 2024 and the agency will seek USDA certification by the end of that year.