Rain Garden Project
A rain garden seemed like a natural fit for a congregation named "River of Life." There were some practical concerns, like the water seeping into the basement wall of the fellowship hall, that needed to be redirected. There is our location in north Minneapolis, next to a major bus line and with lots of foot traffic, good for an educational project. There is also the sheer size of our roof, and the large amount of rainwater that touches it every year, which could be filtered into a rain garden before reaching the storm sewers and going straight to the Mississippi River. Finally, there was of course, the symbolism, and a chance to tell the story of different streams coming together to form one river, the story of this congregation.
In May 2010 we received a Stewardship Fund mini-grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. By participating in a rain garden workshop by Metro Blooms we gained access to professional rain garden advice and designers, one of whom created a design for us that includes all the native plants, which make up our colorful and symbolic rain garden. Note the blue flag iris in the middle in the "river" shape.
You can see the process of creating the garden below. It was a real effort by many who are rooted here:
To help start us off, a youth group from Anoka Covenant Church staying nearby for the weekend helped to dig out the sod, an arduous task.
Youth Enterprises teens and their director helped us dig IN THE RAIN on our first dedicated work day to expand to the final garden size, and depth of 6 inches. Some neighbors who volunteer at Loaves and Fishes also dug in. Project manager Stefan arrived with a load of river rocks to be unloaded in the rain.
The next day, some familiar faces returned, and some new muscles got working too. We got the excavated dirt redistributed, and put the large river rocks into place forming a barrier so the top part of the garden doesn’t cave in. We also discovered a large cement cylinder (we assume from a flag pole) and amazingly with a pickup truck were able to pull it away.
Our project manager spent some time by himself crafting the cement "streambeds" that lead from the gutters to the garden. This way, the water will not seep into the ground, but follow the path we’ve created for it, into the garden. The small river rocks pressed into the cement are for ascetic value.
July 11, 2010 was planting day, following worship! Many people got in on the action, hauling dirt to mix in, laying out the design, planting, and mulching. The plan was to have the garden in by National Night Out, August 3rd, and we made it!
National Night Out Rain Garden Tours: Part of the mini-grant was to provide educational activities about water quality management, and we chose to do that first at National Night Out.
Don't forget to check out the story about the garden in the Metro Lutheran!!