The goal of the Ewing Community Wildlife Habitat Project is to re-wild Ewing, one garden at a time.
I come from a long line of Italian gardeners, but for several years I’ve been exploring the healing properties of reconnecting with the natural world or “rewilding” and the unmistakable relief from stress and other emotional maladies experienced by such simple activities as bird watching, gardening or simply looking out the window at the trees. After many years as an environmental specialist, guilty of aiding and abetting land developers who doze and pave pristine habitats in the name of economic development, I turned to restoration ecology. I take particular pleasure in designing backyard wildlife habitats for urban gardens. On my own small property in Ewing, certified as an Advanced Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, I enjoy the company of a variety of critters and birds that I know have traveled some distance to arrive at my feeders and sing in my trees! I’ve found this “mind/nature” connection to be very therapeutic! In the words of Thoreau, “In wildness is the preservation of the world…”
My grandmothers didn’t have much, but they both loved to garden. They didn’t have money for fancy cultivars or expensive pesticides and fertilizers. So, they gardened naturally, using nature’s own methods to raise the beautiful flowers that they loved. They grew plants from seed, saved seed from year to year, used natural fertilizers, and practiced crush planting to keep down weeds. They weren’t necessarily gardening for wildlife, but their natural methods meant that their gardens were enjoyed by bees and butterflies, birds and earthworms, garter snakes and small mammals. They understood that nature was fertile beyond our wildest dreams. A garden wasn’t a garden if it wasn’t overflowing with greenery and exploding with life. My grandmothers both died before I ever owned my own home and began gardening myself, but they were my prime inspiration to garden and a big reason that I garden for wildlife today.
As a life-long gardener, my garden has always brought me a great deal of enjoyment and peace. Since I’ve started “rewildling” my garden, I’ve realized what a sterile environment I’ve provided in the past. Gardening for wildlife has given me a truer enjoyment of the natural world and created a deeper connection to nature.