Lan-Oak Park District welcomes pollinator gardens concept

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 19, 2019) – “I love what you’ve done with updating the parks,” said Diane Lund at the February 18 meeting of the Park Board. “And this would be a natural progression.”

Lund and her husband Rich were at the meeting to present ideas about developing pollinator gardens in various locations in Lansing. The Lunds had identified several possible sites for these gardens, which are usually strips of land approximately 20–40′ x 9–12′. Three such strips are along the bike path that is maintained by the Lan-Oak Park District.

The bike path crosses Wentworth near Waters Edge Gift, Garden, and Pond Center (18418 Wentworth). The stretch along the path on the east side of Wentworth would be a good location for a pollinator garden. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The bike path crosses 178th Street near Lorenz Avenue. A pollinator garden could be planted along the path on the south side of 178th…
…or on the north side of 178th. (Photos: Melanie Jongsma)
The open field at the northwest corner of Chicago and 178th could also include a strip of native plants as a pollinator garden. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Pollination information

Pollinator gardens are filled with native species specifically chosen to attract pollinator insects—not only bees, but also other insects and certain birds. Pollinators are necessary to the health and reproduction of flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables, as without pollination, most plants are unable to produce fruits and seeds. In addition, pollinator gardens provide a unique resource for education and beautiful opportunities for local photographers.

The Lunds see pollinator gardens as one step in helping Lansing become a Certified Natural Habitat Community.

Growing excitement

Commissioner Jim Long was the first to respond to the Lunds’ presentation: “Yes,” he said. “I think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m excited. This is where we have to say, ‘It’s under consideration,’ but rest assured, I’m in favor of it.”

Senior Superintendent of Strategy and Operations Sharon Desjardins also affirmed the idea, and she added another potential location to the Lunds’ list: the Mildred Burt Nature Center, which is located on the north edge of the Eisenhower Center parking lot.

The Lan-Oak Park District also suggested the Mildred Burt Nature Center as a location for a pollinator garden. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The Nature Center was dedicated to Mildred Burt, a local educator and member of School Board 158, in 1995, explained Commissioner Long. It was never given proper attention and eventually became overgrown. In 2016 the Park Board approved a clean-up plan for the Nature Center, and much of the overgrowth was removed last year. “We’d like to develop it now,” said Desjardins, “and I think you’d be perfect to help with that.” Lund agreed.

Working together

Lund refers to Naperville, Illinois, as an example of a community that has involved a range of entities in transforming the village into a green community, and she believes the same could happen in Lansing. The Park Board, the Village Board, the Lansing Public Library, the Lansing Historical Society, School Districts, and the newly formed Lansing Garden Club all have a role to play, and Lund was excited about the enthusiastic response at this meeting.

The results of this community collaboration will reach beyond Lansing. As one example, Lund—an avid biker as well as an avid gardener—referred to people she has met on Lansing’s bike path, people who bike all the way from Chicago, Illinois, to Crown Point, Indiana. She would love for Lansing’s greenscapes and pollinator gardens to “wow” them as they pass through.

Lansing Garden Club

Lund’s next presentation will be at the first meeting of the Lansing Garden Club, tonight at 6:30pm in the community room at the Lansing Public Library. She is not sure how many people might attend—the variety of activities and groups in Lansing can make it difficult to add one more thing to people’s schedules. But she is eager to meet with anyone who is even curious about plants, pollination, and being green.

The Lansing Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, 6:30–8:00pm, in the community room at the Lansing Public Library. Newcomers are welcome.

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.

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