It may sound like the name of a new residence hall, but by late spring, a patch of open space will be majestically transformed into the Meadow at College Park Hall, Union’s first planned field of wildflowers.
Located at the connection point between Park Place and College Park Hall, the meadow fills about two-thirds of an acre of lawn divided by a walkway. The environmental investment promotes biodiversity and sustainability by creating a natural habitat for pollinators as well as a bird sanctuary. It also will act as a carbon sink by absorbing carbon dioxide and will preserve resources for Facilities Services through decreased mowing.
“Over the last few years, we have worked with faculty, students and our grounds staff to increase our awareness of biodiversity and the reduction of chemical uses on our grounds,” said Marc Donovan ’05, director of Facilities and Campus Development.
“We felt the area by College Park Hall was an ideal location to create the first of what we hope will be many meadows on campus.”
The idea for a meadow has its roots in a Presidential Green Grant awarded last year to Ethan Oswald ’22 and Andrew Nordell ’23 to plant trees across campus, among other things.
Grounds Manager Joe Conti and others in Facilities researched the idea and developed a plan for the meadow. Ground preparation included several months of continuous tilling.
Working with Facilities over Common Hour during a recent weekday, students from several organizations, including Octopus’s Garden, U-Sustain, the Ornithology Club and the Bee Club, took five-gallon buckets filled with a seed mixture of native plants and spread it over the tilled landscape. The first flowers are expected to bloom by late spring.
“Over the next year, it is important that we allow the seeds to germinate and grow,” Donovan said. “When the meadow grows up to 8 inches in height, we will mow it down to 4 inches to ensure the good plants grow effectively. After that, the meadow will be fully established.”
That is right about the time Nordell graduates.
“The meadow is an essential addition to our campus because it provides a sanctuary to creatures whose habitats are becoming fewer and farther between due to human activity,” said Nordell, a mechanical engineering major with a studio arts minor from Greenfield, Mass.
“Pollinators such as bees, birds, small mammals and creatures of all kinds will flock to this space as a refuge, as much of their natural habitat has been replaced by manicured lawns.”