GrowingHeights, in a partnership with AmeriCorps, made some sweeping changes to the butterfly gardens on the corners of Cedar Hill and Euclid Heights Blvd. Battling 96 degree heat and near 100% exposure, the group set to work to both beautify and benefit greenspace, and to save the butterflies.
The syndicate is a collaborative effort meant to impact AmeriCorps members' nearby neighborhoods through environmental service and educational opportunities. The Cleveland Heights cohort of GLISTEN AmeriCorps members is coordinated Augustina Odenbrett, and all Cleveland Heights AmeriCorps members are CHUH high school students. GLISTEN stands for Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network.
Odenbrett, Sinclair Massey, DJ Holsey, Taron Wright, and David Mackenzie worked tirelessly to on the initial cleanup composed of the southeast site. Their service included harvesting Russian Coneflowers, cutting down invasive plants, and exposing the stone trail running through the garden. Seeds from plants have been collected, and as part of a winter project, will be prepared for distribution to other sites in the Heights in the spring.
Across the road, running between Harcourt and Cedar Hill, members cut down the noxious ragweed and the invasive strangleweed that was choking out milkweed, a plant necessary for the Monarch Butterfly. Milkweed is important because female monarchs search for milkweed to lay their eggs. Monarch larvae (caterpillars) will only feed on milkweed and cannot survive without it. Many sites on the migratory path of the monarch have been lost to development, making this site extremely important.
The partnership also cleaned up dead growth on trees and hardy hisbiscus, removed trash, exposed hostas being held hostage by weeds, and identified insects. Identified on multiple milkweed plants were Large Milkweed Bug, an insect new to all the partnership's members.
GLISTEN AmeriCorps is still looking for additional spaces to perform service before winter. The sites must be on public land, or must have a direct public benefit. They would like to spread their work all over Cleveland Heights and University Heights. For now, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike can enjoy the beauty and redolence of purple sage and milkweed standing guarding on our corners.
GrowingHeights members Carol Battle, and special helper John "Kale" Battle, attended CWRU's Volunteer Fair on September 11, 2015 to showcase a garden variety of both volunteer options and products that come from supporting local community gardens and greenspace. The table, set up around noon, drew many visitors and much interest in local efforts.