Rain garden at Haywood Arts turns a problem into a solution

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin’s proverb still holds true. In Western North Carolina, runoff from rain and snow puts an increasing strain on infrastructure and plagues some local properties. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the problem.

When heavy rains hit Waynesville, the parking lot on Wall Street behind the Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) would become waterlogged. In warm weather it bred mosquitoes.

Knowing rain gardens are the most cost-effective solution to excessive precipitation, HCAC Director Morgan Beryl engaged Spriggly’s Beescaping to design and install a rain garden. Spriggly’s co-owner and horticulturalist Brannen Basham explained, “These systems are relatively common, and should be the first step in attempting to fix most erosion problems seen on one’s property.”

To stay within the HCAC budget and further benefit the community, HCAC and the Climate Action Coalition (CAC) recruited volunteers to prepare the ground, plant native wildflowers and shrubs, create drainage, and install a rain barrel. In return for their labor, volunteers would learn about rain gardens. Basham also explained why native plants for rain gardens are the least expensive and most easily maintained options. They are also beautiful.

“Even a relatively small rain garden like this can work wonders at controlling and slowing rapid runoff, reducing its ability to erode and disrupt surrounding landscapes,” explained Basham.

The CAC emailed Affiliated individuals and partner organizations for volunteers. Because the project would provide unique hands-on learning, students from Haywood Community College’s Environmental Leadership Club and their family members were excited to join in.

After the rain garden was installed, Beryl wrote to the volunteers, “Thank you all so much for making this happen for HCAC. We are so grateful and moved by your efforts.” The new rain barrel was painted by local artists.

Jim Geenen, chair, CAC’s Youth Climate Conservation Corps (YC3), added “One rain garden Volunteer showed up at the Bring Your Own Bag Haywood (BYOB) Booth during the Main Street fair recently and is now joining our YC3 Team. Others mentioned that this should become a model for more rain garden construction throughout the county, which is something we are planning to be a part of.”

The HCAC’s mission is to promote artists, art, education, and innovation in art. Spriggly’s is a nature education and Habitat Restoration business with a special focus on supporting native plants and pollinators.

WNC CAC is an all-volunteer group of individuals and non-profits working to mitigate the climate crisis in our region. Mary Jane Curry, Ph.D., co-founder, is a Climate Reality® Leader.

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