Conservation Education Garden

The Conservation Education Garden (CEG) is a project that redeveloped and positively utilizes unused public land.  Eaton County Department of Resource Recovery (ECDRR), Eaton Conservation District (ECD), and Charlotte Area Recycling Authority (CARA) partnered to help create the garden, which is located at the CARA facility. The project involved replacing traditional grass cover with perennial flowers and shrubs native to Michigan which provide benefit to the local ecosystem. The purpose of the garden is to both make these positive contributions to the area’s local ecosystem and natural landscape esthetic but, predominantly, to serve as a long-term continued demonstrational host and resource for local conservation and sustainability focused educational programs. 

This project was supported by the Wildflower Association of Michigan though the organization's 2022 grant program. The grant allowed for the purchase of over 500 native plants for the garden project and provides some funds for signage. Other project supporters that need to be recognized for their contributions include the City of Charlotte, Hammond Farms, Go Grow Plant Natives, community volunteers, and Boy Scout Troop #45. 

Volunteers Beginning to Plant 4Troop 45

Native Plant Types:

Plant types were chosen based on an assessment of the environmental conditions including; light exposure, known water accumulation, existing vegetation, etc. They were chosen careful by the project partners with technical assistance from the expert vendor, Go Grow Plant Natives, to attract and support native pollinators and improve overall ecosystem. Click on each flower title below to learn more.

- Butterfly Weed- Culver's Root- Mountain Mint- Golden Alexander
- Great Blue Lobelia - Grey Headed Coneflower- Hoary Vervain- Sand Tickseed
- New England Aster- Nodding Onion - Prairie Blazing Star - Purple Coneflower
- Black Eyed Susan- Smooth Blue Aster- Ironweed- Wild Bergamont 
- Rattlesnake Master-Showy Goldenrod- Foxglove Beardtongue -Wild Petunia 

 Before Pictures with Plants 2

Educational Goals: 

  1. Serve as a long-term continued demonstrational host site available for the project partners and local organizations who are interested in participating or providing conservation related educational programs. Related topics may include but are not limited to biodiversity, keystone species, and resource recovery. 
  2. Demonstrate a lead-by-example project to conservation and environmental sustainability efforts. Expand public knowledge by providing informational signage and handouts educating on general and specific information about the garden such as environmental & community benefits, identification of plant types, etc. 
  3. Serve as a pilot model to explore the short and long-term feasibility for implementation in other communities and related entities. 

As part of these goals, the project partners are actively seeking community groups and organizations to participate in educational projects and activities utilizing the garden. One example of an activity currently being planned for 2023 is a community workshop building bee "houses" (habitats) out of recycled materials. Examples of community groups and organizations the partners are hoping to work with are:

  • K-12 Classes
  • Civic groups 
  • Local scout troops
  • Local school clubs 
  • Etc. 

* If you are part of a group or organization and would be interested in planning and participating in an activity or project related to the Conservation Education Garden please contact fill out our Educator Request Form. *

Environmental Impacts: 

Providing insect habitat: 

  • Native plants provide a habitat for insects that are increasingly in need of a place to survive. An example of this is the monarch butterfly. Due in part to low numbers of butterfly weed (one of the monarch butterfly's favorite plants), we have seen a decrease in the population of monarch butterflies.  
  • Many insects must complete their lifecycle in leaf litter on the ground under tress.  Outside forces such as lawmowing and raking can negatively impart this process.  Undisturbed areas or areas with less disturbance are important in ensuring insects can complete their lifecycles.

Soil heath and ecosystem resiliency:

  • The mulch added to the garden aids in the retainment of moisture in the soil and adding another layer of protection to newly planted shrubs. This means the plants are able to thrive in many differing types of weather and soil conditions. 
  • Native plants have roots that are equipped to handle many differing types of environmental conditions. That being said, these species of plants are able to combat many types of erosion that stems from changing weather conditions. 
  • Native plants play a big role in water regulation and the minimization of erosion from water. Because these species of plants have a strong and extensive rooting system, they are able to absorb much of the water that would otherwise erode the top layer of soil, making it near impossible for many important plants to survive and thrive.

Invasive species risk mitigation: 

  • Invasive species are increasingly becoming a problem. Invasive species can cause problems such as the termination of native plants, altering habitats, and reducing biodiversity. The integration of native plants helps decrease the possibility that invasive species will spread to this area. Also, it gives the non-invasive species a new and safe place to develop and prosper safely and productively.