In the River Market, a patch of land adjacent to the Town of Kansas Pedestrian Bridge near 2nd and Main has been transformed into a Native Plant Educational Site. Over the past three years, this area has been cleared of trash and brush to make way for Missouri native plants and an art installation. The site improvements were funded by a Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) grant and through donations. The goal of the site is to educate garden visitors and to attract pollinators, which are insects that aid the pollination process.
Rebecca Walker led the initiative with the help of local experts, artists and volunteers. Port KC helped Rebecca research the current land owners, develop strategies to accomplish neighborhood goals, identify funding sources, and supported her application for funding. Cumulative volunteer labor as well as the donation of landscape architect renderings, plants, and materials resulted in about $35,000 in donated resources.
The first phase of work was brush cutting and site clean-up over the course of several days. Afterwards, donated Missouri native tree and pollinator seedlings were planted, which can now be seen from the Town of Kansas Pedestrian Bridge. Over the course of 2016, 198 more native pollinator plants were added to the garden. In September 2016, a Monarch larva was spotted on a milkweed plant, showing that pollinators are being attracted to the area.
A colorful mural was completed in early November by artist Amanda Gehin, who was commissioned to paint a piece highlighting native insects and plants. Plans also include adding a metal sculpture to be created by Charles Jones, a River Market resident who specializes in nature and wildlife sculptures.
Significant amounts of brush, undergrowth and trash are continually being removed from the area. Homeless camps previously seen in the area have vacated, adding to the overall security and safety of the site.
Future plans include a large bee house nearby, a small fence and further removal of overgrowth to allow northern access to the educational site.