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In the last three years, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD) has selected a city for a Green Summer Project. They collaborate with the community and individuals to better manage water, especially from runoff, as well as help with building rain gardens, providing free rain barrels and education on water conservancy.
They chose the City of St. Francis for the 2016 Green Summer Project. In December 2015, they asked our community for a letter of support for the project. It was sent by the Administrative Team, with a promise that we could benefit. Subsequently, they came with their expertise and walked through our wetlands, giving advice and possibilities of future help with water management. They may also provide some soil amendments in areas where they are needed.
On Thursday, August 11, they put in a rain garden on the north side of the St. Joseph building. They saw this as an ideal place to catch water from two downspouts while providing beauty to the area. Sized approximately 12 by 20 feet, it features 175 native plants that absorb water, such as little blue stem grass, purple cone flowers, butterfly weed, asters, brown-eyed Susans, and more. The varieties that were chosen will provide color and contrast. MMSD provided the materials and the volunteers to complete the project.
The District has posted a video clip on the project featuring the OSF property.
May 14 was our Garlic Mustard Pull , and 40-50 people generously gave 1 to 3 hours of their time to help us rid our wetlands of this invasive plant. Sr. Mary Lou Schramer (pictured at right) put her whole self into this project. One of the younger volunteers (photo of boy at left) enthusiastically helped empty buckets of mustard for those doing the pulling, and Girl Scouts (also pictured below) from Waukesha gave an afternoon of their time pulling the weed. The end result was a mountain of garlic mustard.
The Earth Echoes project was begun in 2010 as a land use management plan for our Motherhouse grounds. Our mission is to restore our urban landscape to a more mindful, spiritual and natural state that will serve as a model for sustainable urban land use. Our 22 urban acres near Lake Michigan provide a wonderful opportunity to share the tranquil beauty of nature, add to the diversity of urban wildlife and bird habitat, and provide education to the surrounding community.
The project today includes a large vegetable garden and orchard, a newly planted urban forest area with native trees and understory plantings, restoration of the Deer Creek wetlands at the west edge of our property, an active apiary that serves to study the issues of the endangered bee population, generate honey and provide education and training for others interested in bee management, and overall volunteer and educational opportunities throughout the year.
Charlie, our beekeeper, gave a presentation on the bees to students from St. Monica/Eugene School during their service trip to our land use project. They had spent the morning of July 25 mulching the trails from the reflection garden to the urban forest.
OSF Sisters went to the Milwaukee Water Common Celebration at Bradford Beach on the north side. It was an evening of talks, music and ritual which went into the night. The little Elf Car was present for people to see an electric car which is sustainable and environmentally friendly.