Grace Farms’ own story also provides an inspiring example of how we can help protect against the loss of our biodiversity—the variety of wildlife that makes up an ecosystem— and enrich our very own habitat. Like much of Connecticut, the land on which Grace Farms is built was formerly horse pasture made up entirely of grass; planted grass/lawn is the largest mono-crop in Connecticut, comprising over 265,000 acres state-wide. While this sounds beneficial in some respects, the drawback is that grass is a biological desert, or monoculture, void of the diversity of life.
After purchasing the land, one of the Foundation’s priorities was to biologically restore and preserve the majority of its 80 acres, encouraging indigenous wildlife to return by recreating native meadows and habitats that existed on the land before the grass was planted. In partnership with the renowned landscape architects at OLIN, Larry Weaner Landscape Associates helped select the native plants that would exist in a local meadow. These meadows have again become home to countless species of life, including over 60 species of birds, many different species of native bees, and butterflies.
Since the rejuvenation of the meadows, the birds that feed on insects like dragonflies have returned, including Kestrel Falcons, which were recently removed from the Connecticut Threatened and Endangered Species List.
The progress we’ve made toward creating a biodiversity hotspot at Grace Farms alone is a testament to the impact our individual efforts can have. In the late 1800s, the majority of forests and wildlife had disappeared from Connecticut; but today over 70% of New England’s forests have grown back, and our local wildlife has returned including black bears, moose, foxes, eastern coyotes, wild turkeys, and many more.
We are at another tipping point today: if as a local community we allow even a small percentage of our grass to grow wild, we would bring so much life back to the region. Help create biologically rich areas, maintain our ecosystem and, in turn, our own natural habitat.