Jennings Prairie Gateway

3MJC is working with Jennings staff to transform the current prairie entrance into an interpretive site and day use area. The overall project consists of several smaller projects that will complete the makeover.

Once these projects have been completed, 3MJC will maintain the native plant beds. The interpretive sites will include:

Native plants

Native plants create beautiful landscapes that provide native wildlife with the habitat and food they need to prosper. They also help to protect watersheds and maintain an area's unique heritage. Because Pennsylvania's native plants evolved here, in the right conditions they thrive with little maintenance and minimal watering and fertilizer requirements. The pollinators and wildlife they attract help maintain a healthy ecosystem.

A native plant is generally defined as having existed in the state before the Europeans arrived. The botanical diversity of Pennsylvania More than 2,100 native plant species make up the botanical diversity of Pennsylvania.

While new plants are moving into Pennsylvania, native plants are being lost to habitat destruction, invasives, and introduced pests and diseases. Many introduced or alien plants brought into the state have become established or "naturalized". Thirty-seven percent of Pennsylvania's total plant flora are introduced and more are identified every year.

An invasive plant is a species that has become a weed pest--one that grows aggressively, spreads, and displaces other plants. Although some native plants are aggressive on disturbed areas, most invasives have been introduced from other regions, leaving behind the pests, diseases, predators, and other natural controls that usually keep them in check.

Volunteers at Jennings Prairie Entrance

Above, volunteers enhance the entrance to the Jennings prairie with native plantings.

Volunteers at Jennings Prairie Entrance

Volunteers pose with their finished project.

Jennings Prairie Entrance

Native plants grace the pillar at the right side of the entrance to the prairie at Jennings.

 

Interpretive Sites

Clivus Composting Toilet

Since its invention in 1939, Clivus Multrum composting toilet systems have been used in homes, parks and commercial buildings as the sole method of treating toilet waste. The composting process is reliable, convenient and safe. Its results are both conservative and productive; water is saved from use as a carriage medium and the fertilizer content in excreta is made available for reuse.

The Clivus composting toilet uses aerobic decomposition to slowly break down both urine and feces into stable compounds within the polyethylene composting unit. The sloped design ("Clivus Multrum" means inclined chamber) separates urine from feces.

Solar Panels

As the name implies, solar electric — or photovoltaic (PV) — systems convert sunlight energy to electricity. This transformation occurs in solar modules, typically referred to as panels. Each module consists of numerous solar cells, which are usually made of silicon. They produce electricity when incoming solar radiation knocks electrons from the silicon atoms out of their orbits around their nuclei. These electrons flow to the surface of the cell where they are drawn off by tiny silver contacts.

In solar electric systems, numerous modules are wired together in series to provide the electricity for our homes and buildings. These modules are usually attached to an aluminum rack, which can be mounted onto a roof or a foundation set in the ground next to your house or building. The modules and the rack system constitute a solar array.

The electricity produced by a solar array is direct current (DC) electricity. A device known as an inverter converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, the type of power used in U.S. households. The inverter feeds electricity into the breaker box or main panel, where it is distributed throughout a building.

Clivus Restroom With Solar Panels

Restroom at the entrance to Jennings prairie contains Clivus Composting Toilets that operate using roof-mounted solar panels

What is compost? Compost is a soil-like mixture of decayed and decaying organic matter and minerals, which is the foundation of organic gardening. Why compost? It's an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your household waste. Nutrients are slowly released to plants as they are needed. The use of compost improves clay soil, making it easier to work; helps sandy soils hold more water; and increases plants' ability to withstand drought. Compost feeds the soil microorganisms that release nutrients and help plants grow strong and healthy. You can use it as a soil conditioner, mulch, potting mix ingredient, and fertilizer. There are many methods used to make compost. The system used at Jennings is a Multi-Bin Outdoor System.

Volunteer Moves Compost Bins

Above, volunteer is satisfied with his work in establishing the multi-bin outdoor compost system behind the restroom area.

Rain Barrels

One major benefit of collecting rain water is the cost savings. Using the collected water reduces your need for municipal or well water and can help reduce your water bill. Another benefit is that the collected water can be used on your lawns during water bans and will be available during a drought.

Rain barrels stop excessive water from entering storm drains and overtaxing water treatment systems. They also help prevent landscape degradation and flooding and limit water access to your foundation.

Rain water is not treated with chemicals like chlorine and fluoride which can inhibit plant growth. Naturally soft and healthy rain water will do wonders for your lawn and garden. As an added bonus, because it is soft water, it will give a spotless sheen to your car.

 

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