By Sonali Basak
The grand re-opening of the University Environmental Center’s sustainable backyard will take place today (Arbor Day) from 4 to 6 p.m.
The yard was built in 2004 and has grown significantly since then. Former Environmental Club president Becca Shopiro ’12 said they have taken a standard-size backyard and planted native species to make it a sustainable garden that can be recreated virtually anywhere.
“There are so many plants now that they are giving many of them away,” Shopiro said.
The growth seen in perennials planted when the project started shows how sustainable the garden truly is.
“I appreciate how they have so many native species. It doesn’t look like a typical garden. It looks natural,” Shopiro said.
Cathy Curran Myers, interim executive director of the Environmental Center, will begin the event with a welcome message. Throughout the event there will be tours of the garden and all of its features: native plants, organic vegetable gardens, solar panels, rain barrels for storm water collection and a compost bin.
In the front yard, visitors can find information on woodland plantings and light refreshments. The new walkway reuses flagstones from one of the relocated fraternity buildings. The walkway provides storm water management by retaining rain and snow under the surface with a 16-inch gravel foundation.
The creation of the sustainable back yard was part of the larger Campus Greening Initiative. This initiative sees to create greater sustainable resources on campus and create a residential learning environment. Other parts of the initiative include storm water retention innovations, promoting a walking campus and creating energy efficient buildings.
Shopiro said one of the visions of the initiative is to have outdoor learning labs where students can have better opportunities to learn about storm water retention, civil and environmental learning and restoration of natural habitats.
“It’s a pretty magnificent place, though a lot of people don’t know about it,” said Melinda Thomas ’12, vice president of the Environmental Club.
Thomas interns at the Environmental Center and has seen the cleanup of the garden, the new pathways formed and the many potted plants available for giveaways.
The Environmental Center is located on One Dent Drive across from the Observatory. Today’s event is free and open to the public. The native plant giveaway is first come, first served.