Come, play in the dirt with us and see our property up close and personal! June 15, Saturday, 8 am to noon, is our June outdoor workday. We will continue the good start from the May outdoor workday installing mulch around trees. There will be weeding, checking mulch, monitoring our plantings, and more. Dress for work and safety—long pants, sturdy shoes, and sunscreen. Bring work gloves. Land Stewardship will provide tools. Come, play in the dirt together. Walk through our prairie and around our wetlands, connecting with the blessings of God’s creation we have right outside our doors. Questions? Contact Paula: pstompkins@stcloudstate.edu

Prairie Talk: "Restoring" Prairie at Home

Restoring prairie acreage, like the FUMC prairie, are important acts of stewardship that help protect animal, bird, and pollinator habitat, and encourage carbon sequestration. What can we do to be more active stewards of God’s creation at home, in our own yards? Although we can’t recreate an entire prairie on a city lot, we can plant native plants or a pocket prairie. If you are thinking that my yard is so small, it won’t make a difference, think about the fact that the acreage of lawns in the U.S. is about three times the acreage of irrigated corn. Everything adds up.  While many prairie birds and animals require larger acreage, like the FUMC prairie to survive, pocket prairies and planting native plants can provide spaces for pollinators and resting spots for migratory birds, the goal of efforts like the monarch highway. The FUMC prairie is designated a monarch waystation, where we have begun restoring native plant habitat. Your yard could also be a pollinator or bird resting spot.

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Prairie talk: Butterflies, Bees, and Prairies: Pollinators at Risk

Chasing after butterflies is a fond childhood memory for many of us. Experience taught us to leave bees alone when they visited flowers in our yard. What butterflies and bees and even flies, wasps, beetles, birds and bats have in common is that all of them pollinate plants.  Insects and animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants and nearly 75% of our crops.  Pollination occurs when pollen from the male part of a flower (stamen) is moved to the female part of the same or another flower (stamen), fertilizing the flower. Successful pollination produces fruits and seeds. The primary methods of pollination in nature are wind, insects, and birds, with wind being the least reliable.


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Prairie Talk: Why Burn Our Prairie?

Some people are surprised that an important part of developing and maintaining a prairie is a schedule of regular, controlled prairie burns. Regular, controlled burns are called prescribed burns. If we do not regularly burn our prairie, it becomes more susceptible to an uncontrolled prairie fire caused by a lightning strike or a cigarette thrown out a window. Uncontrolled prairie fires sometimes become dangerous wildfires. 

Prescribed burns also are crucial for maintaining the health of an existing prairie and for prairie restoration. One benefit of prescribed burns is removing thatch that blocks the sun from germinating native plants and killing invasive plants and unwanted trees that can overpower native plants.  Burning promotes the diversity of native prairie plants that can survive adverse weather conditions, such as drought.  A second benefit of prescribed prairie burns is adding nutrients to the soil, stimulating growth of native plants. Finally, burn management promotes growth of a diversity of prairie plants that provide food and cover for pollinators, birds, and animals.

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Prairie Talk: What Is a Prairie?

Driving into the FUMC parking lot, our prairie has become a familiar sight. It is hard to believe that we moved from less than ¾ an acre of land in downtown St. Cloud to almost 20 acres on Pinecone Road, and almost half of our property is prairie. According to the MN DNR, before European settlement Minnesota had over 18 million acres of prairie, with about 250,000 acres of native prairie remaining today. Prairie is North America’s most endangered habitat.

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