prairie in the park

the project

The urban prairie plot in Benson Park has been seeded, and temporary signage has been installed.

The Prairie in the Park Project – a partnership of Omaha by Design, the City of Omaha and the Benson-Ames Alliance – is introducing the prairie aesthetic to Benson Park in the Benson-Ames Alliance.

A two-acre urban prairie test plot featuring a mix of  prairie grasses and wildflowers has been planted. Two varieties of seed have been used – a low grow grass and wildflower mix as well as a rain garden mixture. The seeds for the test plot have been donated by Dick Berry, chairman and owner of United Seeds Inc. in Omaha.

In the coming months, interpretive signage will be added to the plot that explains the value of incorporating native plantings into the local landscape.

Site plan for Phase I (John Williams, parks department)

The community outreach portion of the project is focusing on gaining public acceptance of the historic yet misunderstood prairie aesthetic. The Benson-Ames Alliance, in partnership with the parks department, intends to use the site to structure events that underscore the importance of sustainable landscapes in urban life and to encourage Omahans to give native plantings a try at home or the office.

Following the completion of the test plot, the goal is to introduce additional urban prairie plots to appropriate parcels of city park property throughout Omaha.

Funding for the project is provided through grants, donations and in-kind support from the City of Omaha Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Property.

the idea

The idea for this project was submitted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior Zack Fergus last fall in conjunction with Pass the Potatoes, a virtual town hall event sponsored by Omaha by Design that invited the public to share ideas for improving the sustainability of the city. Users submitted more than 100 ideas in five areas. Following the idea submission period for each area, the public was asked to improve upon the ideas of others and then vote for their favorite idea.

At the conclusion of the online outreach effort, a panel convened by Omaha by Design and city officials reviewed the top ideas in each category for potential implementation. Fergus, a native of Omaha, suggested introducing the prairie aesthetic into public parks and properties. His idea was selected for implementation in 2011.

get involved

If you’re interested in being a part of the Prairie in the Park Project, we encourage you to get involved.

  • Spread the word. Book a Prairie in the Park speaker for your neighborhood or civic group. Call 402.934.7055 for more information.
  • Give native plantings a try at home. Need help getting started? Visit http://acreage.unl.edu/landscapes.
  • Donate. A Prairie in the Park project fund has been established at the Omaha Parks Foundation. Checks can be sent to: Omaha Parks Foundation, Prairie in the Park Project, 1819 Farnam St., Suite 701, Omaha, NE 68183 (Attn: Amber Miller).

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