Monday, July 14, 2014

Get Your Passport for a Summer Church Raingarden Tour – August 17

By Jenn Radtke, Water Resource Education Assistant, East Metro Water Resource Education Program

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church installed a raingarden last year to capture run-off from
its parking lot.  It's not formally on the tour on August 17th but stop by anyway to take
 a look. The garden (1390 Larpenteur Ave E in St. Paul) is in it's prime!

Ding! Ding! Ding!
In my neighborhood on Sunday mornings I often will hear bells ringing. I’m not even sure where the bells are coming from, but when I hear them I envision a group of folks settling down in rows of wooden pews, opening up a hymnal and preparing to sing an opening song of worship, with stained glass windows in the backdrop. Churches, synagogues, temples and mosques dot the landscape of our communities and provide vital resources for their members and non-members alike. 

Think about it for a moment; a church requires staff and therefore creates jobs in the community, and they support a variety of local businesses for more than just donuts during coffee hour. Some churches have food banks that are open to everyone, and part of their mission might be to volunteer to do service work in the community. The physical space and building that a church uses provides meeting rooms for religious worship and study but also for Boy and Girl Scout troops, AA meetings, and even childbirth education classes. In recent years, many congregations around the East Metro area have been rethinking how they use their physical land in relation to the environment by installing raingardens.

Ramsey County Master Gardeners work with school volunteers to help plant
Redeeming Love Church rain gardens in early June.

Raingardens are simply bowl-shaped gardens that are designed to capture and clean storm water that falls during a rainstorm. By capturing and soaking in the water, these raingardens are able to keep dirty storm water from washing down our streets and into storm drains which eventually end up in our local lakes and rivers. Stormwater carries pollution with it, such as garbage, motor oil, pesticides, grass clippings and leaves, which all harm our water resources.

On August 17, 2014, from 12:00noon-4:00pm six local congregations will be hosting a Church Raingarden Tour to show the community how they are managing water on their properties while being good stewards of the land. Information about downloading a “passport” for this event is below.

By installing raingardens, churches are able to add beautiful and welcoming landscaping to their properties, provide habitat for birds and butterflies, reduce stormwater runoff to local lakes and rivers, and educate the public about water conservation. From native raingardens to pervious paver promenades, these beautiful gardens are not to be missed!

You can start at any one of the six churches where you will be able to pick up a passport with descriptions and a map. Churches featured on the tour include:

  • All Saints Lutheran Church, ELCA (8100 Belden Blvd., Cottage Grove, MN 55106)

Left: In order to be good stewards and good neighbors, All Saints constructed a large raingarden of native flowering plants that are known to attract monarch butterflies in later summer. The gardens are maintained by the All Saints "Gang Green Team."  Right: Monarchs are attracted to a blazing star.

  •  Woodbury Community Church ( 2975 Pioneer Dr., Woodbury, MN 55125)
Woodbury Community Church features one large and two small raingardens that capture water from their
roof and parking lot and beautify their property.  Right: The "crew" on planting day.

  • First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater MN (6201 Osgood Ave. N., Stillwater, MN 55082)
First Presbyterian used a need to do good.  When their parking lot needed replacing, they decided to design with water in mind.  Features include a promenade of pervious pavers and multiple large raingardens.  Right: Pervious pavers in the promenade allow water to soak into the ground.

    • St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Stillwater (111 Orleans St E Stillwater, MN 55082)

    Left: St. Peter's UCC built a curb-cut raingarden that filters storm water from the street and a smaller raingarden off their parking lot.  Right: This raingarden captures run-off from the church's parking lot.

    • Cross Lutheran Church of Maplewood, MN (1945 Prosperity Rd. St. Paul, MN 55109)
    Left: Cross Lutheran Church's congregation held a festive multi-generational gathering to plant and celebrate the completion of a large, very colorful rain garden that extends the length of their parking lot.  Right: Cross Lutheran Church's raingarden filters run-off from their parking lot before it reaches a nearby impaired lake.

    • Hope Lutheran Church of St. Paul (1340 Hazel St. N., St. Paul, MN 55119)
    Hope Lutheran transformed a drainage challenge into a blessing on their grounds by installing a dry creek bed and two new lovely rain gardens that capture hillside and roof run-off.  Right: Hope Lutheran's raingarden features shade tolerant plants - columbine, Jacob's ladder, and sensitive fern.

    For more information or to download a passport and map, visit or contact Jenn Radtke at 651.330.8220 x44 or email her at jradtke[at]

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