Bendu Kollie wants to learn as much as she can about the plants growing in her church’s raingarden. Her church community, All Nations Seventh-Day Adventist Church, planted it in August with the help of Metro Blooms in a landscape renovation to manage stormwater and help pollinators. She hopes it plants seeds of stewardship among the younger people in her congregation.
“I’m learning to appreciate native plants, like plants that attract bees and what the bees do for the earth,” said Bendu, a 20-year church member, “and that’s the knowledge I’m trying to pass down to the kids, to let them know how important these things are to our environment.”
This project is part of a Metro Blooms program that helps small businesses and institutions create resilience in their landscape with sustainable practices like raingardens, native plantings and creating habitat for pollinators.
The church owns its own building in North Minneapolis, and has slowly been working to make improvements both inside and out. Bendu describes the congregation as “a beautiful mix of people coming together” from different countries. She immigrated from Liberia more than 20 years ago, and says that many church members, particularly parents like herself, have had the shared experience of culture shock as they and their children have adjusted to life here as immigrants.
Bendu feels a strong connection with many of the younger church members. She manages youth activities for the church and was looking for ways to engage younger church members when she heard about Metro Blooms. She liked the idea of making the church yard more beautiful and environmentally-friendly — not to mention the potential savings in taxes gained through stormwater credits from the City of Minneapolis as part of putting in the raingarden. Bendu also saw the partnership as a way to get the youth outdoors, connecting with others, and to spark their interest in the environment through gardening.
She was pleased that several teens and children helped during the community planting day. She recalled one little boy who hung back shyly at the beginning, watching. By the end of the event, he had put in several plants himself, commenting that he’d be back every summer to make sure the garden was taken care of.
The church community takes care of the new landscape. Following planting day, church members chosen specific days to come (Bendu chose Thursdays). Some of the youth will do some tree shaping later this fall. In the future, Bendu hopes, they will have opportunities to learn more about maintaining the raingarden and the native plants, maybe even from Metro Blooms.
Others appreciate the new landscape, too. The church distributes food boxes once a week, and people like to have a look at the gardens on the way in. “People who come to [food] distribution will stop out front here first to see what’s going on,” Bendu said. “This is creating an awareness of how we need to preserve our environment, how we need to preserve nature, how we need to treat what God has blessed us with…how to be good stewards.”
— Aleli Balagtas, Metro Blooms Communications Editor
More about this project
Metro Blooms engages communities in resilient practices that restore the natural function of a landscape. Metro Blooms and the All Nations church designed the project in line with an equitable development tool ensuring this work would benefit the community. The project was supported by the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, Hennepin County and the MN Clean Water Fund.
More about raingardens
Raingardens divert rainwater from running off impermeable surfaces like sidewalks and streets into storm sewers, picking up pollutants on the way. The sewers empty into and pollute our lakes and rivers. In a raingarden, the water is taken up by the long roots of native plants or is cleaned naturally as it soaks deep into the earth. This raingarden soaks in an estimated 400 cubic feet of rainwater during a typical storm — enough to fill a concrete mixer truck. This raingarden is also an oasis for pollinators; blazing star, black-eyed Susans and purple coneflower are a few of the flowers that will attract some buzz in the future.