A new project at Geauga Park District’s Frohring Meadows park in Bainbridge will attract pollinators, including bees, insects, bats, birds and more. The pollinator garden and nature play area will be an attraction to parkgoers as well, and children will have the opportunity to play in the pollinator garden. In addition, it will serve as an inspiration for everyone to help pollinators by planting such gardens in their own back yards.

Pollinators include bees, butterflies, bats, wasps and flies. They help carry pollen from one plant to another to be fertilized and to produce fruits, seeds and young plants. We can’t live without them.

Ground was broken for the garden last week at the park off Savage Road. Foundation for Geauga Parks is funding the project. Construction has started, and the garden is expected to be completed by fall.

Representatives of the Foundation for Geauga Parks and the Geauga Park District as well as the firm installing the garden were on hand June 15 to put their shovels to the ground.

Geauga Park District Director John Oros said park district and foundation members have talked about pollinator gardens for many years. Fortunately, Frohring Meadows already provides opportunities for pollinators with its prairies, grasses, flowers, and wet meadows.

The new garden will provide additional opportunities and will also help parkgoers as well as families and children to learn about the importance of pollination, Mr. Oros said. Frohring Meadows encompasses about 160 acres and is the most visited park of the Geauga Park District.

The garden is a great collaboration between the park district and the Foundation for Geauga Parks, as well as a pollinator education for parkgoers, Mr. Oros said.

L. Caticchio and Son Landscaping, Inc. of Chester Township is installing the garden in an area that is about one quarter of an acre in size. Designing the plan for the garden and the play feature is DERU Landscape Architecture of Cleveland. Foundation for Geauga Parks has committed $93,000 for the project.

It will include a children’s play area, with climbing apparatus, tunnels and logs as well as access for everyone of all ages to enjoy the plants, said Amanda Mumford, Geauga Park District planner, who is overseeing the project.

Nature play is a relatively new concept in parks and there is a great need for that attraction today, she said.

Todd Gaydosh is director of the Foundation for Geauga Parks and said the garden is a starting point for pollinator education and will provide a growing relationship with Geauga Park District. He thanked everyone at the groundbreaking event for their involvement.

He also noted that Jeff Hyde, former foundation board president, came up with the idea for the pollinator garden. Mr. Gaydosh said the garden will have a positive impact on the area by being helpful to the environment and adding natural beauty to the park. The garden helps native plants and all of nature to flourish. The idea is to have an education program as well, he said, and the Foundation for Geauga Parks will be looking at funding future pollinator gardens in Geauga County.

Adam Henry, co-president of Foundation for Geauga Parks board and chair of the pollinator campaign, expressed excitement in starting the project. Not only will it play a vital role for pollinators but it will be a place for children to play, he said. It will serve as an example for parkgoers. They can make their pollinator gardens in their own yards and call the foundation for advice.

“It’s a place for kids to play and everyone to learn about pollinators in our community,” Mr. Henry said. “Our big goal is to make it accessible for everyone to walk through and to learn how they can create a similar pollinator habitat in their own yards.

“We are excited about the project. This has been four years in the planning stage. It was Jeff Hyde’s vision that pollinators need to be a focus for our organization,” Mr. Henry said. “It is so important to make it a lasting legacy in the community.”

Gene McCune is a beekeeper in Auburn Township and a township trustee. He attended the groundbreaking event. He is involved in the Geauga County Beekeepers Association and praised the efforts to help pollinators.

South Russell Mayor William Koons was also on hand for the groundbreaking event. He noted South Russell has a butterfly garden in the village park on Bell Road. One was put in several years ago by Girl Scouts. Recently, resident Judy Harvey, with a group of women from the Manor Brook community, has maintained that garden as well as put in an additional butterfly garden in the park.

“I think it’s good people see the whole scheme of how food is produced and how pollinators are needed to protect our food supply,” Mayor Koons said.

Carolyn Brakey, foundation board member, said as a mother of two, she sees how they play at nature playgrounds and the new project will be an important resource for families visiting the Frohring Meadows park. “I love nature play for my children,” she said.

Jeff Hyde, a former Foundation for Geauga Parks board member and board president, noted Geauga County is a rural county and pollinators are a crucial part of its agricultural history. He noted the pollinator garden at Frohring Meadows is a collaborative effort between the foundation and the park district.

The purpose is educational as well and will help everyone to understand pollinators and the role they play in the environment by helping plants to reproduce and create fruits and vegetables. “An amazing number of foods we eat require pollination to produce their fruits and vegetables,” Mr. Hyde said. “What is unique is that this is Geauga County, founded on agriculture, and pollination plays an important part in agriculture.”

Knowing the importance of pollination and in light of the declining populations of bees and butterflies, it is good to show how these plants support those pollinators, and it is important for everyone to learn what they can do in their own backyards, and what plants support pollination, Mr. Hyde said. There are dozens of native bees that play a role in our natural ecosystem, he said.

The foundation is actively fundraising to promote the garden at Frohring Meadows as well as future pollinator gardens in other parks, such as those in Geauga County townships. The funds are all from donations and no taxpayer dollars are used, Mr. Hyde said.

The mission of Foundation for Geauga Parks is to promote community engagement with nature through education, preservation, and conservation of the unique natural character of Geauga County.

Matt McCue, deputy director of the Geauga Park District, said the project took root in 2019. Jeff Hyde saw the threat to insects and animals responsible for pollinating plants which provide for food sources as well as other resources. “We started with Jeff and brought LERU in on the design and this year is construction.” Mr. McCue said. The emphasis is on the importance of pollinators and native plants and showing what could be done on park visitors’ own property with native plantings to attract pollinators.

He noted how a mound is being used with elevated platforms as part of the play garden and a hive area that is part of the nature play area under the area. Children will have an opportunity to explore nature and will be able to climb, crawl, and dig in the area. There will be signage explaining native plantings, pollinators and their values, Mr. McCue said. And everyone can learn what to grow in their own home gardens for pollinators, he added.

“This is a great improvement to the park and a great collaboration effort,” he said. “So many organizations are involved.” They include the Foundation for Geauga Parks, Cleveland Foundation Lake-Geauga Fund, and the Paul and Maxine Frohring Foundation.

“We’re excited because it is a great way to incorporate native plants in the park,” Mr. McCue said. “Frohring is one of the most visited parks and this expands what we offer to the public and it offers an opportunity for children to play and learn.”

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