Planting the seeds for a new Metropark

It takes a lot to set up a brand new Metropark from scratch. One of the steps along the way is re-establishing northwest Ohio’s native plants.
Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 7:58 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - From harvesting, to planting, all the way to harvesting again. It’s all in a year’s work to make sure our native plants continue to thrive here in our Metroparks.

Tim Schetter is the Director of Natural Resources, Metroparks Toledo. He tells 13abc, “Even before the Metroparks were here, most of northwest Ohio was very biologically diverse.”

But farming put an end to a lot of that natural diversity.

Schetter explains, “Previous land uses affect what the condition is now. 09 Even at Oak Openings Preserve, which has been a Metropark now for almost 90 years, before that, it was farmed. As a result, the biological diversity isn’t as high as it might be otherwise.”

Brand new Metroparks need help in building that diversity back up. Especially Glass City Metropark, which used to be an industrial area. Now, the riverfront is going back to its roots, with help.

Jenella Hodel is the Nursery Crew Leader. She explains the process: “We start with native seeds that we collect from the wild from whatever species we want to propagate or amplify, and we take those seeds and we grow plants in the greenhouse, and then we take the plug to be raised and we install a production plot.”

That production plot is a field where the plants will eventually be harvested and contribute to the habitat that workers are trying to restore.

“We use a lot of the same techniques and equipment that corn and soybean farmers use to produce over 400 species that we use in our restoration projects.”

Work has already started at Glass City Metropark, and Hodel says you’ll start to see new plant life as early as this spring.

The nursery is located in Whitehouse, in an area that’s known for its cultivation of the land, but for a different operation.

Schetter explains, “This used to be a prison work farm. So, this was part of the Toledo House of Corrections Facility that was in operations until the 1990s. Prisoners here grew their own food, so it’s an interesting transition from prisoners working on a farm to using this for the public good for native seed production.”

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