Every Friday afternoon at four p.m., Glenn Gilbert heads out to the new native prairies growing on campus. Gilbert, sustainability coordinator for Goshen College, invites anyone else interested in learning more about the prairies to join him in experiencing the native plant growth.For Gilbert, the goal of the program is “to get people to experience this radical change on our campus, to learn about it, to enjoy it.”
JFNew, the company hired by the college to oversee the growing project, is pleased with the progress the native plants have made, Gilbert said.
“There are some flowering plants that they don’t usually see this early in the process,” he said. “The plants are looking pretty healthy for the most part.”
Still, work needs to be done to keep the project on schedule. Gilbert and his Friday group pull weeds in order to keep unwanted plants under control.
“It’s a tug of war between the plants we’re trying to develop and the annual weeds,” said Gilbert.
Junior Jonathan Mark attended the first two gatherings. Mark is also working with Ryan Sensenig, associate professor of biology and environmental science, to monitor and record all the plant species in the prairies.
“These prairies are important to me,” said Mark, “and I am excited to see them mature in the coming years.”
Paul Meyer Reimer, associate professor of physics, also came out to see the prairies.
“I’m also curious about prairies–they’re so much more interesting than lawns,” Reimer said. “My naïve idea was that if you just let a plot of ground go, you get a prairie, but that’s not the case.”
Both Mark and Reimer encouraged others to attend Fridays@Four. Although the gathering was canceled last week because of heat, the group will meet this coming Friday at 4 p.m. This week they will meet at the retention pond east of the running track, instead of their normal meeting place at the Kratz Miller lawn.
“People should come out to support the Goshen College Prairies [and] enjoy the beauty of the prairies,” said Mark.