Gold Award Project Builds Rain Garden Awareness

Last summer, Girl Scout Michelle Smeaton built a 300-square-foot rain garden in Brooklyn Park. She installed it on public land because she wanted to educate her community about rain gardens and preventing water pollution.

Rain garden site after excavation.Located adjacent to a parking lot in River Park near the Mississippi River, the garden takes rainwater runoff from the parking lot and hard surfaces. As the water is absorbed, pollutants are slowly filtered by roots and soil. Michelle hopes others see the rain garden and are inspired to create their own.

Michelle spent more than 100 hours planning and creating the rain garden for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She admits the size of the project was daunting in the beginning, but she developed and carried out her plan by breaking it up into smaller, attainable steps.

Native plants ready for planting.She started by contacting the city of Brooklyn Park, and worked with the city to choose a site and have it excavated a couple feet deep. She arranged for soil amendments to be delivered to the site, and she researched and selected native plants that could withstand both wet and dry conditions and required little maintenance. She also secured a grant to cover the cost of the garden from the Shingle Creek Watershed Commission.

When the day of construction arrived, Michelle and her team of 10 volunteers used shovels to loosen up the soil so it would filter water more effectively and installed about 60 plants. “Everything came together so nicely at the end,” Michelle said, “That was really rewarding.”

After completing the rain garden, Michelle created educational posters and pamphlets to display at the Brooklyn Park library and city hall. Read more about her project in the Sun Post.Michelle and volunteers stand behind completed rain garden.