Garden oasis in downtown Omaha grows food and community | Home & Garden

A once-empty plot of land at 13th and Leavenworth Streets is growing food, flowers and community.

Amy Walstrom, who works downtown, has watched the transformation of the Sacred Seed Pop-up Garden on her daily walks. After the Warren Distribution building there was torn down in 2017, the lot has changed from a weedy patch to a haven for pollinators and birds — and people.

“It’s lovely,’’ Walstrom said. “The colors, the variety of plants. The fact that they have labeled what all the different plants are, so if I wanted to duplicate them in my own yard it won’t be so difficult.’’

Janis Regier of Natural Therapy first had the idea for a garden after the Warren building was demolished and approached Polina Schlott, whose husband, Bob, owns the property. The Schlotts liked the idea, with the caveat that the land could someday be sold or developed. Hence the reason it’s called a pop-up garden.

The first year was rough, but then the community started to build. The Nature Conservancy became involved, as did people at Kaneko, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and No More Empty Pots. Kinghorn Gardens helped with the layout as well as Taylor Keen, founder of Sacred Seed. Many others have come on board, including Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim.

The vegetables grown there are feeding multiple pantries, with 1,539 pounds donated so far, and it’s become a learning center for children, teaching them about sustainable gardening and monarch butterflies. Clients at Mosaic get a chance to enjoy nature by helping with the upkeep.

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Omaha officer finds peace in huge prairie garden

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When Kim Pecha can’t immediately find her husband, she knows exactly where to look.

Michael Pecha will be outside in his prairie garden, bent over to study a caterpillar or butterfly.

“Behind 3- or 4-foot tall flowers, she will see my head pop up,” Pecha told the Omaha World-Herald.

Pecha has plenty of tall plants to hide behind. After lots of thought, this spring he expanded his two garden beds to cover 3,000 square feet of his front yard.


Little did the veteran Omaha police officer know it would be a saving grace in a tumultuous summer.

“It has brought me joy and stress relief and has had a bigger impact than I ever expected,” he said.

Pecha has planted about 90 species of native grasses and flowers on his Elkhorn property. He meticulously records everything he grows on a spreadsheet, including where it’s planted, if it’s native and where it originated.



Purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, anise hyssop, snow-on-the-mountain, blazing star, cardinal flower, Illinois bundleflower and sideoats grama are his favorites.

“I’ve gone a little overboard with 3,000 square feet of my lawn converted to prairie,” he said, “but anyone can set aside a little section of their landscaping and plant native plants and play a role in protecting and benefiting the planet.”


Pecha’s show-stopping display is all because of a tree that fell in his front yard several years ago, leaving behind a huge pile of sawdust and wood chips. Pecha couldn’t decide what to do with the area, so he purchased seed and scattered it. He even used the Save the Bees packets from Cheerios cereal boxes.


He collected seeds from those plants at summer’s end, and the next year, he tossed them in a second plot. Last spring, he decided to dive in completely. He switched to planting plugs and brought in more native species with seeds from Stock Seed Farm in Murdock, Nebraska, and Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota.

“It became more than being outside,” he said. “I wanted to do something for nature. The bees and butterflies and birds.”

Pecha always has been an outdoor enthusiast. But with the arrival of two children, exciting mountain hikes turned into easier trips to Glacier Creek Preserve in Bennington and nearby state parks.


He started to develop a deeper connection to and love for the prairie and its plants and what people consider flyover country.

He connected with “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold, “A New Garden Ethic” by Benjamin Vogt and writings by native plant guru and author Doug Tallamy. Pecha also was inspired by the photographs of Michael Forsberg and Chris Helzer of the Nature Conservancy.

“I just kind of decided I felt like being part of the solution,” Pecha said.

Now his mini-prairie is flourishing — and a home for local wildlife. It brings joy not just to him, but to his family and people in his walker-friendly neighborhood, who often stop to take pictures.

“My daughter, Ruby, and her

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Omaha officer finds peace in huge prairie garden | Nebraska news

“I’ve gone a little overboard with 3,000 square feet of my lawn converted to prairie,” he said, “but anyone can set aside a little section of their landscaping and plant native plants and play a role in protecting and benefiting the planet.”

Pecha’s show-stopping display is all because of a tree that fell in his front yard several years ago, leaving behind a huge pile of sawdust and wood chips. Pecha couldn’t decide what to do with the area, so he purchased seed and scattered it. He even used the Save the Bees packets from Cheerios cereal boxes.

He collected seeds from those plants at summer’s end, and the next year, he tossed them in a second plot. Last spring, he decided to dive in completely. He switched to planting plugs and brought in more native species with seeds from Stock Seed Farm in Murdock, Nebraska, and Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota.

“It became more than being outside,” he said. “I wanted to do something for nature. The bees and butterflies and birds.”

Pecha always has been an outdoor enthusiast. But with the arrival of two children, exciting mountain hikes turned into easier trips to Glacier Creek Preserve in Bennington and nearby state parks.

He started to develop a deeper connection to and love for the prairie and its plants and what people consider flyover country.

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Prairie garden brings joy, stress relief to Omaha police officer | Home & Garden

When Kim Pecha can’t immediately find her husband, she knows exactly where to look.

Michael Pecha will be outside in his prairie garden, bent over to study a caterpillar or butterfly.

“Behind 3- or 4-foot tall flowers, she will see my head pop up,” Pecha said.

Pecha has plenty of tall plants to hide behind. After lots of thought, this spring he expanded his two garden beds to cover 3,000 square feet of his front yard.

Little did the veteran Omaha police officer know it would be a saving grace in a tumultuous summer.

“It has brought me joy and stress relief and has had a bigger impact than I ever expected,” he said.

Pecha has planted about 90 species of native grasses and flowers on his Elkhorn property. He meticulously records everything he grows on a spreadsheet, including where it’s planted, if it’s native and where it originated.



20200829_liv_marjgardencolumn_pic_cm003

Omaha police officer Michael Pecha uses a spreadsheet to keep track of everything he’s planted.




Purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, anise hyssop, snow-on-the-mountain, blazing star, cardinal flower, Illinois bundleflower and sideoats grama are his favorites.

“I’ve gone a little overboard with 3,000 square feet of my lawn converted to prairie,” he said, “but anyone can set aside a little section of their landscaping and plant native plants and play a role in protecting and benefiting the planet.”

Source Article

Read more