As part of a new land management strategy developed by the Office of Sustainability and Buildings and Grounds, the Colleges have designated new Grow Zones. By design, patches of grass around campus have been left unmowed in order to allow natural biological processes, such as carbon sequestration, and pollinator habitats, to thrive. The strategy has also decreased the Colleges’ carbon emissions.
The Grow Zones are located in front of the Scandling Campus Center and de Cordova Hall.
“There are many benefits to this strategy,” says Sustainable Manager Michael Amadori. “First, we have to consider the amount of fuel that we’re not using to mow those areas of campus, which is reducing our overall carbon emissions. And there are many biological benefits.”
By allowing grasses to grow taller, Amadori explains, they begin to use more energy. “As the roots grow deeper, the plant develops an increased capacity to sequester carbon,” he says. Longer grasses are also welcoming to native pollinators, including bees, butterflies, beetles and other species. In the next phase of the project, Amadori says they hope to grow native plants in the Grow Zones.
“These Grow Zone areas get away from the traditional manicured look and open the opportunity for environmental benefits,” says Grounds Manager Drew Rojek. “Sustainable landscapes can be difficult to achieve as often times they are labor intensive, which may be counter intuitive. Carefully choosing the what and where can help these areas become successful.”
The Arbor Day Foundation recently recognized HWS as a “2019 Tree Campus.” This is the 8th consecutive year that HWS has received the designation which honors colleges for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in conservation efforts. In addition, last year HWS was recognized for the first time as a Bee Campus an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The designation honors the Colleges’ commitment to raising awareness of the roles pollinators play in our communities and to creating sustainable habitats for pollinators on campus.
Recently, EcoReps helped revive the Colleges’ garden on St. Clair Street using native perennial wildflowers purchased from Butterfly Effect, a local business owned by former HWS Biology Lab Technician Jim Norwalk. Students also toured the business’ greenhouse which is owned and rented by Victor Pultinas ’09 and Jenna LaVita ’08.
The mission of Butterfly Effect is to increase usable habitats for insects and birds. Local butterflies, bees, and birds do not get everything they need to thrive from conventionally-landscaped yards, Norwalk explains, because they are dominated by non-native plant species. Adding native wildflowers to urban and suburban gardens has a restorative effect on the ecosystem.
In the photo above, a student walks by the Grow Zone located near de Cordova Hall.