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Published: Tuesday, 11/13/2007

Native plants get new roof to take root in Wood County

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Justin Bauer, left, and Ned Fairbanks, both of Wood County Parks System, build an office barn at 
Reuthinger Memorial Park on Oregon Road, where native plants will be fostered in a new greenhouse. Justin Bauer, left, and Ned Fairbanks, both of Wood County Parks System, build an office barn at Reuthinger Memorial Park on Oregon Road, where native plants will be fostered in a new greenhouse.
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When the Wood County Park District was growing a couple hundred native plants a year, it could afford to get by with borrowed greenhouse space.

This year, the park district raised some 10,000 plants to transplant at park properties, and officials decided it was time they got their own place.

The park district recently completed building a 31-by-96-foot greenhouse, where it plans to raise plants native to Wood County, beginning this winter.

The greenhouse cost $25,000, the bulk of which came from the park district's booster group, the Friends of the Parks.

"I've worked hard with the Friends of the Parks through the fund-raisers and the native plant sales over the years to raise the money, so it's nice to see it come to fruition," said Chris Smalley, stewardship coordinator for the park district. "It worked out well.

"Their support was absolutely essential for it to succeed," Mr. Smalley said.

The greenhouse, which will have an adjacent work and storage building, is located at one of the park district's newest properties, the J.C. Reuthinger Memorial Park, just north of Owens Community College on Oregon Road.

The 69-acre site, which includes farmland and woods, eventually will be turned into a natural area and wetlands per the wishes of the donor, the late Lucile

Reuthinger Knepper.

The Rossford woman was well aware of the development in the area before she died in 2005.

Across the road from her family farm is an industrial and business park. Nearby farm fields have "for sale" signs posted.

"That area is exploding with light industry, and they didn't want that to end up happening to their farm," Neil Munger, parks director, said.

In addition to the greenhouse, the site will feature a native seed nursery. "They'll be growing plants outside that they can harvest seeds from and then use those seeds to grow plants in the greenhouse and then they'll transplant those plants out into the parks," Mr. Munger said.

Mr. Smalley said once it's up and running, the site will provide plenty of volunteer opportunities for nearby residents and Owens students.

"We're in uncharted territory, parkwise. We don't have anything right where we're at - close to Owens, close to Rossford, close to Northwood," he said. "It's a new opportunity to reach a new population."

Wild lupine, native columbine, giant sunflowers, and 80 or so other species native to northwest Ohio will be grown at the greenhouse and planted each spring at the more than 1,100 acres owned by the park district.

Mr. Smalley said the park district also does special projects, such as the one it completed at Elmwood Schools.

Some 3,000 native plants were planted at a prairie display area behind the schools on Jerry City Road in southern Wood County, he said.

While the parks like to work with schools and other organizations, natives grown at the greenhouse will not be for sale, with one exception: the annual native plant sale sponsored by the Friends of the Park.

"Once a year, on one day, for just a couple hours, we'll have a little bit for sale at a decent price," Mr. Smalley said. "That's pretty much the only time."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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