A muddy garbage-strewn area at a Fitchburg Housing Authority site has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly garden that provides habitat for butterflies and other pollinators as well as environmental learning opportunities for children.
What was the problem? During rain events, water flowing from a nearby hillside could not percolate through the soil and pooled in a flat area below resulting in an unsightly wet area. With the help of Fitchburg DPW, a trench was dug and crushed stone and a perforated pipe was laid. After filling in the trench, 1,000 sq. ft of soil was removed from the top 18 inches around the area and a sandy loam was added. This final layer was graded with a slight bowl shape to aid in water retention. The very next day after completion, a heavy rain left no puddle! To get ready to plant the garden, this loam layer was overlaid with a permeable weed barrier and a stone pathway was created. Then, with the help of neighborhood residents, community volunteers and a work crew from the United Way Day of Caring, over 100 colorful butterfly-attracting plants were planted in the sandy loam area.
This bioretention area is part of a larger “Big Field” project aimed at transforming a large green space at Green Acres Village, a Fitchburg Housing Authority complex, into a multi-generational active living space. The Big Field project is part of Fun ‘n FITchburg’s efforts to prevent obesity and get people more physically active.