United States of America, New York, Westchester, Rye
Rye Nature Center (Rye, New York)
The mission of the Rye Nature Center is to promote conservation and environmental education within an urban forest and preserve. The 47 acre site, once a private estate, is comprised of three distinct gardens: a 300 square foot educational garden inside a deer fence, a rain garden, and a native plant garden, an educational center with two classrooms in the former carriage house of the estate, woodlands with natural water features and an outcropping of volcanic gneiss, more than two miles of hiking trails, a seasonal butterfly house, and two children's playgrounds and a sunflower maze. Classes are given for pre-school and school age children, summer campers, and adults on water conservation and storm water management, plant lifecycles including decomposition, and gardening techniques that are beneficial to the environment and wildlife. The teaching methods are hands on, encouraging participants to sample organically grown produce while planting or hand-picking insects that will be fed to the bearded dragons housed in the educational center. Rain water is collected and channeled to the rain garden's ferns, Joe Pye weed, milkweed, blue flag iris, cardinal flower and shrubs. A roof garden with self-watering containers also demonstrates how rain water can be captured and used.
Food grown in the gardens is used for cooking demonstrations and leftover food from the campers is turned into compost for the vegetable garden. Logs from the woodlands, straw and wood chips are inoculated with several varieties of mushroom spawn, also demonstrating how decomposition aids food production. Tomatoes and squash are planted in straw bales that were used for autumn decorations and an old wash basin is repurposed as a bog garden containing Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, cranberries and sphagnum moss. The native plant garden, established by the Little Garden Club of Rye in 1988, includes an edible forest garden shaded by sweet gum trees growing native perennials, trees, shrubs and ground covers that provide food for wildlife and humans. Also a bee-friendly garden is being planned by the nature center staff.
The Friends of Rye Nature Center was first founded as the Rye Conservation Society in 1964 and has been managed by the non-profit Friends since 2006. It has been certified as an urban wildlife sanctuary by the National Institute for Urban Wildlife.
Persons associated with the garden include: Parsons family (former owners 1902-1942); City of Rye (owner, 1959- ); Nature's Cradle (rain garden design and installation, 2011); Jacob Nurick (urban farming installation, 2013); Taro Letaka (director of conservation, 2013- ); Annette Hein (horticulturist, 2014- ).
The folder includes worksheets, a photocopy of an article and other materials.