If we had a dollar for each time we’ve heard that in the past three years, we’d be rich. But Downtown Whitewater, Inc. is a volunteer led and driven non-profit committed to Whitewater, so we’re certainly not rich, and if we did indeed have those dollars we would continue to do what we do – invest in the community.
Several years ago Fort Community Credit Union also wanted to make an investment in Whitewater, and they allocated a sizable donation through Downtown Whitewater, Inc. that manifested in the form of the Eastgate Sculptures. You can find out more about the sculpture design and artist at https://www.downtownwhitewater.com/eastgate.
Back to those “weeds.” We’ll assume that you may not be intimately aware of the full scope of all that we do at Downtown Whitewater, which we sincerely hope to change, but one part of our mission is to ease the burden of government. So, when the committee moved on to looking at options for landscaping around the two sculptures, one of the most important parts of that planning was asking, “What is a sustainable landscaping plan that minimizes the burden of upkeep to the dedicated crews who keep our city looking its finest?”
Enter the prairie, and the following quote from the company that we’ve been working with for the past three years, Tallgrass Restoration: “Native plants offer several benefits for your land. Due to the fact they have evolved to live in the climate, they require minimal care. Native plants are already accustomed to the amount of rainfall, soil type, area pests, and wildlife, which means that you will save on water, pesticides, and maintenance.” Sounds like a win, right?
But how do you go from grassy space to established prairie? A lot of sweat equity. To date we’ve logged about 250 volunteer hours. It takes generally about four years for a seeded prairie of the type selected for the footprint of these two sculptures to be fully established. Each year in that process, volunteers coordinate with Tallgrass Restoration for what needs the prairies have, which is almost always pulling weeds. It is worth noting that the prairie located by the new downtown business 70×7 Trends (also known as the north prairie) has an aster that should bloom in a few weeks that indicates the age of that prairie has now reached the four-year mark. The south prairie, located in front of Floral Villa, has had its share of challenges between a water main break and an unscheduled mowing that have stunted its growth. With an additional reseeding and installation of seedlings this spring to jump-start growth, it continues to be at about a two-year age mark.
We wanted to update the community on this process because it is a process, and as we spotted the first of the blooms this week we decided to share with you now. We hope that you’ll look on your way past this space at the sculptures that chronicle many of the wonderful parts of Whitewater and a little bit of native plant life in the heart of downtown. If you find yourself curious about what species are included in our prairie seed mix, we’ve compiled those at https://www.downtownwhitewater.com/landscaping-for-the-sculptures.
Thank you for your time in reading through this update, thank you for supporting the many small businesses in downtown, and most importantly thank you as a member of this community for being the single most important part of what makes Whitewater special – its people.
Kindly submitted by Lisa Dawsey Smith, Board President, Downtown Whitewater, Inc.