Friday, October 03, 2014

Charter School Planting Possibilities

I've heard the Princeton Charter School may be rethinking its landscaping. This could be good news for any student wishing to get acquainted with our natural heritage of native species. As things are, there's a tightly controlled landscape of trees and turf, with a few little raised beds for vegetables near the staff parking lot.

One promising spot for a narrow raingarden is this ditch next to a walkway.

The island dividing the parking area from Bunn Drive could accommodate a larger raingarden,

as they did on the Princeton University campus behind the new neuroscience building just off Washington Road. Note the curbcut where runoff from the street can enter the concave raingarden. A little weeding out of the foxtail grasses would neaten up the appearance considerably.

What really would be exciting though, and very educational for the kids, would be to work with the office complex just up the hill from the Charter School to turn this big detention basin into a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers. We're talking about a habitat bonanza for birds, butterflies and other pollinators,

and shifting from weekly mowing, of an area that can get very wet, to an annual mowing.

What could be more educational than to show kids how something negative--polluted runoff flowing from a big parking lot into a detention basin that's difficult to mow--

can be used to feed something positive--a wet meadow that provides beauty for us and food for an endless variety of pollinators?

I have already approached the manager of the office complex on Ewing Street about shifting to meadow, but it was nixed by the owner in Texas. If the Charter School approached them, they might react differently. A federal agency, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, has helped in the past with expertise and materials to shift basins from turf to meadow, such as at Farmview Fields.

This is a very do-able initiative for someone at Charter School to explore. I can supply contact info for the office complex manager.

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