St. Louis Zoo Chooses Florissant for New Garden

PAUSE PROJECT: Florissant’s community garden began in the area next to the Old Town Partners building on St. Charles St. The citizen gardeners received a grant from Gateway Greening which thought that the site would be a good fit for the PAUSE project and put them in contact with the St. Louis Zoo.

By Carol Arnett

The City of Florissant has been selected to be a part of the St. Louis Zoo’s new PAUSE Project, a long-term program of national and international involvement.

PAUSE stands for Pollinators/ Art/ Urban Agriculture/ Society/ and the Environment. It is a joint program between the St. Louis Zoo, the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and Tohono Chul Park of Tucson, Arizina and funded by the US State Dept.

Ed Spevic, with the St. Louis Zoo, spoke to the Florissant City Council at their last meeting to explain the program. He was introduced by the city’s Community Development and Housing Director, Carol O’Mara.

O’Mara explained that she was approached by residents about using some land for a community garden. They began gardening in the area next to the Old Town Partners building on St. Charles St. The citizen gardeners received a grant from Gateway Greening. Their contact at Gateway Greening thought that the site would be a good fit for the PAUSE project and put them in contact with the zoo.

Spevic said that the project was affiliated with the zoo’s Center for Native Pollinator Conservation (CNPC). The center focuses on native bees. 80% of flowering plants and 75% of crop plants need pollinators, Spevic said. Bees, he added, are the best pollinators for most plants. The Center is working to ensure that bee populations remain healthy.

Spevic stressed that the garden would be designed to attract native species, which are not aggressive.

He said the PAUSE program had looked at several sites before choosing this one. He was excited about the site for several reasons. “The site has a lot going for it,” he said. “Active volunteers, the creek, Old Town Partners, the proximity to the creek, the fire department, senior apartments and three schools.” It is also near the bike trail.

The garden will eventually cover approximately three and a half acres and go from the Old Town Partners building to St. Denis St., and from the creek to the power lines.

PAUSE has a team of students from local colleges who will work with zoo staff on the project. Spevic presented some preliminary designs from the students and zoo staff. They will develop a short and long range plan for the site that will include the existing shared and allotment garden. They will create design ideas for expanding the existing garden and concepts for a future historic/three sisters garden, orchard, and a native Missouri habitat restoration.

Spevic said that zoo has already worked with Ameren in other places to put native prairie plants under power lines.

The site will also include a learning space, a sculptural piece reflective of the culture that will serve as a habitat for pollinators for the garden, and signage explaining the importance of the garden and native pollinators. All the parts will not immediately be put in place, but it will grow over time.

This Saturday, April 6 will be a work day to set up the garden.

Spevic stressed that the zoo and the CNPC were invested in the project. “This is a long-term, multi-year project,” he said.



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