By Wilson Roth, The Weather Vane student newspaper
In early fall of 2008, the mowers were silenced, the grass began to grow longer and preparations began. Did Physical Plant forget about mowing the North side of EMU’s hill? On the other hand, perhaps, there was too much work to be done and the hill was the last item on list? In actuality, under the command of Josh Brubaker, lead grounds worker for Physical Plant, a meadow was ever so slowly forming.
But why a meadow and what benefits does a meadow bring? As Brubaker explains, “Meadows are an unusual and captivating landscape feature. The plant life that flourishes when left alone reminds us of the way this space might have looked before we came here. It is restful and humbling to enjoy the beauty that happens when we don’t interfere.”
Besides the natural look the meadow brings to EMU’s campus, it provides superior water filtration, slows water runoff, saves money and the environment from the lessened usage of mowers, and provides an excellent place for classes to learn about the outdoors.
In keeping with EMU’s core values and actions towards becoming more sustainable, the meadow is another terrific “green opportunity.” As Eldon Kurtz states, “[We are creating a] sustainable meadow for sustainable reasons.” With the decreased mowing of the meadow, happening only twice a year in late spring and late fall, the decrease in emissions will save the environment. In addition, the monetary savings of having a meadow are also very significant, saving the university roughly $3,500.
With the first full year of the meadow complete, what has happened and what is yet to come? During the first year of the meadow creation process, the natural grasses have grown up and some of the wild flowers that have been planted have begun to bloom.
Finding what works in the meadow will be a trial and error process and the first year proved to have its difficulties and successes. Currently, there is Bluegrass, Rye, Wild Bermuda, Quack Grass and Fescue grasses interspersed throughout the landscape of the hill. The flowers planted this past year consist of Shasta Daisies, California Blue Bells, Cosmos, Lupines, Red Poppies and Black-Eyed Susans.
The Black-Eyed Susans have done very well on the hill and some of the other flowers have not even graced the hill with their appearance this past year. However, next year the flowers will have had some time to mature and should make quite a show. In addition, wildflowers have been planted carefully at certain times so that they will bloom around graduation and around homecoming weekend.
A variety of reactions and concerns have also surfaced through the recent “meadow initiative.” A neighbor has had concerns in the past year about whether the meadow will have ill effects on his yard from possible spread of unwanted seeds to his property. This concern was addressed and with mowing the meadow twice a year, as previously mentioned, the spread of seeds will be kept to a minimum. Also in the next half year, signage will be constructed to give the general public information about the purpose of the meadow.
Overall, there has been a lot of positive feedback about the meadow. While enjoying the meadow, Sara Beachy said, “I like to frolic in the meadow, the squirrels just make my day sometime.” Sonnie Siegfried continued by saying, “Planting the wildflower’s on the hill is the best idea ever because I love the butterflies.” The next year will still prove to be an experimental time for the meadow, but most certainly a year of growth and maturation.
The meadow will only get more beautiful and become another unique part of the diverse EMU campus.