The project had an official kickoff on September 29, 2018, with great turnout at the field day event to celebrate the park and learn more about the project.
South Portland’s iconic Bug Light Park is one of the city’s gems and most visible public areas. But the environment is subject to salt water spray, has very compact soil, and only natural irrigation is available. Keeping the grounds lush and green is a challenge. This makes it a perfect spot to demonstrate just what can be done with organic land care practices.
Community members and visitors are invited to visit a demonstration site at the park to see how natural turf can be grown organically, even in challenging settings. This area, of about an acre, is just along Madison Street. Osborne Organics will be developing the organic management plan at this site to replace the weeds and bare spots with healthy, resilient grass. If successful, these practices will eventually expand throughout the park.
South Portland is collaborating with Stonyfield Organics on this project. The New Hampshire based organic yogurt company has launched an initiative to help communities across the nation make playing fields organic and free from pesticides, and Bug Light Park is its inaugural project.
Yerxa Park, one of the city’s hidden treasures, is tucked between the Fore River and the Greenbelt Walkway, between the Turners Island and Knightville neighborhoods. This riverfront park, overgrown by non-native invasive plants, has become an underutilized green space. Invasive plants lead to a loss of biodiversity, which can cause environmental and economic harm. Yerxa provides an ideal site to demonstrate the use of organic plant management in the creation of an educational park and garden.
The restoration of the area, which is being funded by a Community Development Block Grant, will be done in several phases. The first two phases were completed in 2018. The park was surveyed using iMap Invasives; more than ten invasive species were identified, with Japanese Knotweed being the most prevalent. Next, about 10,000 square feet of the site were cleared of knotweed.
For the next phases, different methods and materials to keep the knotweed from coming back will be tried on the site. A path will allow visitors to observe and learn from these trials. After two growing seasons, native plant species will be planted. Educational signs, paths, and benches will further enhance the park.
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