Prairie Blazing Star blooming at Lake Street Church.Submitted photo

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National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, has recognized Lake Street Church as having successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. The garden space improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. Certification also makes the habitat part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators.

“We are so excited to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods,” said David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.

A line in the Lake Street Church Covenant reads, “We promise to be stewards of the earth, sustaining it for future generations by cultivating self-discipline and gratitude.”

“We work diligently to create a garden that embodies our covenant and sustains life and also pleases the eyes of passers-by in our urban community,” said Betsy Bouchard, one of the gardeners.

“The Lake Street Church habitat is a mixture of formal and informal gardens. In one, we use taller prairie plants, such as lavender and magenta asters, golden sunflowers and goldenrod, scarlet cardinal flower, purple blazing star, coreopsis, and golden alexander. These mix with grasses such as prairie dropseed and non-native fountain grass, with dogwood and magnolia shrubs, serviceberry trees and redbuds. We mix local with some non-native plants that need little extra water or chemical treatment. In the fall, we shred our leaves to provide natural mulch for the gardens. Gardening is learning from experience, as we see each spring what has thrived … or not,” she added.

NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discourages chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries.