Thank you, friends. Thank you for taking action this year to restore the ecological function of our yards and neighborhoods, whether you were attending our workshops, volunteering your time with us, engaging us to come and work in your yard or on the property where you live, or asking us to join with your organization to promote practices that bring resilience to our landscapes and communities. We could not have achieved so much without you.
Raingardens and Best Management Practices
In 2018, we installed some 200 raingardens and other stormwater management practices. All together, they prevent two million gallons of stormwater from running into sewers that empty into and pollute our lakes and streams. We came back to many communities in Minneapolis with our neighborhood raingarden program, and added newcomers Bancroft and Logan Park, as well as the cities of St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Minnetonka.
Twelve small commercial property owners in the Bassett Creek Valley and in Northeast Minneapolis are working with us to design and install projects on a different scale, capturing larger volumes of runoff and installing native trees to provide urban habitat along inner city commercial corridors.
We’ve been busy as bees working to support pollinator habitat. Nine of 10 of our turf alternatives workshops were sold out last year (400+ property owners). We have shared best practices for installing a bee lawn developed by the University of Minnesota so people can do it themselves in their own yards.
One of the highlights of our year was a late-season event where residents, public officials, staff and volunteers helped to plant a pollinator garden of more than 200 plants at Autumn Ridge Apartments, an affordable-housing complex in Brooklyn Park. We are looking forward to seeing this garden come alive this summer!
And back at the office, our regional planner Jun Tang has been working with an inter-agency pollinator team to develop a unique mapping tool to identify “sweet spots,” ideal locations for investing in pollinator habitat.
Blue Thumb Partners
Our Blue Thumb partners were an integral part of our aforementioned workshops in and around the Twin Cities. All told, 1102 people attended our resilient yards and alternative turfs workshops and learned about ways to create more ecologically functional gardens and yards. Also, keep an eye out for our newest healthy soils workshop this spring. Blue Thumb partners and soil experts spent many hours creating a DIY workshop — gratitude for your time and efforts — piloted last fall, and we’re getting ready to launch!
A shout-out to Blue Thumb partners — businesses, organizations, watershed districts and others — who conversed with thousands of visitors at our Minnesota State Fair exhibit to spread the word about native plants and clean water.
Everybody should have the opportunity to help create a resilient city by taking action in their yards and neighborhoods, and we have enjoyed our work engaging with watershed stakeholders in low-wealth communities. At two large affordable housing complexes, Autumn Ridge Apartments in Brooklyn Park and Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis, we are engaging residents and managers in a participatory planning and design process to beautify the properties, manage stormwater, create pollinator habitat and provide healthier outdoor spaces. At the 17-acre site at Autumn Ridge, we’ve already completed the first phase of a five-year effort to infiltrate 100% of the stormwater, installing five raingardens, more trees, a pollinator garden and a new playground area. More work to come, and we’re rolling up our sleeves—can’t wait to get started!
Gratitude to all of you, our partners, helpers and supporters, including neighborhood associations, businesses, property owners, the Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, watershed districts, county, state and local governments, park districts, resident project and climate stewards, Master Gardeners, Water Stewards, and Naturalists, Blue Thumb partners and so many others for collaborating in the work to protect our natural land and water resources.
We look forward to continuing our work with you in the new year!