THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: Native plants co-evolved with native insects and wildlife; they are deeply dependent on one another. Plants provide food and shelter to insects, birds, and other small animals, which, in turn support larger predators. Native plants are the fundamental stepping stones of a healthy eco-system.
Introducing native plants to your garden or land can bring many seasons of delight and discovery. Their many merits, though, exceed their virtues of beauty, resilience and appeal to birds and pollinators.
Ecosystem Restoration: Tallgrass prairies are North America’s most threatened major ecosystem, with about 99% plowed up or paved over since the 1830s. By planting native species, you are restoring ecosystems and preserving countless species that might otherwise be lost forever.
Clean Air: Like forests, prairies and meadows sequester pollutants and carbon from the atmosphere. Even small plantings can help filter the air around your home, and large plantings can help to mitigate climate change.
Clean Water: Because of the deep root system of most native plants, they act both as a sponge and a filter. They help water soak down into the soil and filter out excess nutrients and pollutants, improving water quality.
Healthy Soil: The dance between native plants and animals created some of the most fertile soil on Earth, making the American Midwest the “Breadbasket to the World.” Native plants prevent soil erosion, create topsoil and build fertility.
Invasive Species: Outside of their native environments, some plants will aggressively out-compete others because they lack natural checks and balances like pests and predators. Some of our worst non-native invaders – Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, Dame’s Rocket – were first planted in gardens. By choosing natives, you can help prevent further habitat loss.
Resource Conservation: Once established, native plants can save you time and money because they require little or no irrigation, fertilizer, pruning or mowing.
Keep the Circle complete – plant natives!
Predators like foxes, snakes and birds of prey rely on small mammals, amphibians, birds and insects for their survival. All of these prey species are sustained by native plants.
90% of our native insects are specialists, meaning they require a native host plant in their life cycle.
Birds sustain their young almost exclusively on native insects, primarily caterpillars. It takes thousands of caterpillars and insects in order to raise and fledge a clutch of young birds.
Essential nutrient cycling is expedited by carrion beetles, fly larvae and other scavenging insects, enriching the soil.
A few square feet or several acres, we can all make a difference… HOPE GROWS IN EVERY BACKYARD
Prairie Moon Nursery can trace its three decades of vigorous growth back to seeds sown by idealists and activists working for ecological and social renewal. Early 1970s prairie pioneers encouraged development of nurseries to propagate native plant and seed stock. Among those who accepted that challenge were Doug and Dot Wade, who opened Windrift Prairie Nursery at their Oregon, Illinois, home.
They experimented with propagating a diversity of native species, helped by their son Alan when he visited from his home in Winona, Minnesota. In the late 70s Alan moved south of town to Wiscoy Valley Community Land Cooperative, which was organized in 1976 around the principles of collective land stewardship, social justice and consensual decision-making.
Alan Wade joined there with several fellow community members in 1982 to open Prairie Moon Nursery. Though its main facilities moved two miles up the ridge in 2008, all of the nursery’s valley plantings, and some on the ridge, still are located on the land co-op, where many of us who own and work at Prairie Moon are resident members.
We still grow plants from Dot Wade’s collection and hundreds of others from throughout the upper Midwest. We work closely with a network of dedicated producers who sell their seed on consignment through Prairie Moon. We strive to provide excellent service, offering the highest quality native seeds, plants and advice. We are inspired and energized by our daily contact with so many individuals and organizations who share our passion for ecological preservation and restoration.
We’re all learning how to better assist nature through all of our experiments, from a tiny backyard planting to a multi-acre project. Thank you for joining us in learning through growing.