When visiting the fair this year August 17-20 be sure to check out the five new Fire-Wise demonstration gardens along the left side of the main thoroughfare. They are an educational project designed, planted and maintained by members of Sustainable Rogue Valley, a local group working to build community resilience and sustainability.
The themes demonstrate ways fire-resistant plantings can benefit homeowners and their families, as well as important and struggling pollinators and butterflies which have recently experienced an alarming drop in their numbers.
The beds include: a Permaculture Garden bursting with tomatoes, strawberries and figs, a Bee and Pollinator Garden enticing insects with catmint and lavender, a Monarch Butterfly Garden featuring two kinds of local milkweed, a Native Edibles Garden with hazelnuts and huckleberries ready to eat, and a Rain Garden actively replenishing the water table.
Many beds include interesting features such as an Insect Hotel, a Mason Bee house, a Toad Abode, and a Pollinator Watering “Station”. The Butterfly Garden has already played host to 3 Monarch caterpillars, hatched from eggs laid on the milkweed plants by passing butterflies! All the plants are fire-resistant.
No pesticides are used in the gardens, keeping them healthy for everyone from butterflies, pollinators, toads and humans to the microorganisms in the soil.
Members of the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Master Gardeners, Fairgrounds Board members, the local Soil and Water Conservation District (who got the grant to fund it), and friends helped prepare and plant the beds. Fairgrounds employees are working with the group to maintain them.
To learn more about the FireWise Garden Project and the group go to SustainableRogueValley.org.