While construction workers are busy all over town, a group of Waltham students have started "repurposing" the east lawn of Christ Church Episcopal. What are they doing?
They’re creating the very first man-made meadow in Waltham. So far, the students have installed rain barrels, plotted and marked off the site dimensions, and removed grass where native plants will go. Their next task will be to finish sifting out roots and other leftovers from the lawn. Then they’ll plant and maintain a variety of native shrubs and flowers that will become essential sources of food and shelter for native bugs and birds.
"Wow, that was hard work, but so cool," said McDevitt Middle School student Adam Hemmouda, after sifting dirt from clumps of grass with his brother Omar, who attends the Fitzgerald Elementary School. "We look forward to coming back each day."
There are still spots available for students, age 10-15, parents and citizens to join the meadow makers at 750 Main St. The pilot program is free of charge.
Every Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon, students in the Waltham Meadowscaping for Biodiversity Summer Pilot Program meet on the lawn with a team of professionals. Students will learn how their meadow, once filled with native plants and shrubs, will become home to bugs, butterflies, bees and birds that have grown scarce in this area because lawns and non-native plants offer none of the foods they eat. Also, homeowners don’t know that many widely sold pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides that promise a beautiful green lawn include chemicals toxic to humans, pets and wildlife.
Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, an outdoor, project-based, environmental education program for middle school youth, got its start in Waltham. Founder Barbara Passero, a Waltham resident and creator of experiential, healing-the-environment-through-education programs for youth, is spearheading this eight-week, 16-session program that engages young students in STEAM-subject learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) while they design, plant and manage a sunny meadow that’s good for the Earth. Other team members are project co-leaders and educators Jean Devine and Steve Gordon and landscape designer Laura Eisener.