What’s up with the overgrown grass at Morton Circle?

Wellesley’s summer months feature freshly-cut green lawns and precisely manicured landscaping on public and private property. That’s what makes the field bordered by Town Hall, Morton Circle, and the Police Station look particularly out of place.  Unlike most of Wellesley’s grassy areas, the field will serve as a pilot site for two cordoned-off sections of untouched meadow this summer.

The two meadow sections are part of a project initiated by the Wellesley Village Church (WVC) Environmental Ministry and Hunnewell Helps, fueled by support from the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and Department of Public Works (DPW).  On May 2, the groups organized an Arbor Day-themed service project at the Housing Authority’s sites on both Morton Circle and Weston Road, which included the preparation of said test plots.

Each of the two test plots is 625 square feet and each divided into fourths. After taking soil samples from each, the coalition sowed different wildflower seeds in three of the quarters in each, leaving the fourth untouched. The grass will be left to grow high, unlike the regularly-cut field grass surrounding it.  Hunnewell students and parents helped prepare the plots and plan to  their progress throughout the year.

According to the WVC Environmental Ministry, Morton Circle serves as a perfect location for this project because it is centrally located, allowing for public outreach opportunities, but also unused for the most part, minimizing any interference with day-to-day life for Housing Authority residents.

The WVC Environmental Ministry, Hunnewell Helps, NRC, and DPW support the project because of the important precedent it sets in developing away from the norm of manicured lawns. Lawn maintenance drains local water sources and uses large amounts of energy and gas to cut. Pesticides and fertilizers also add harmful pollutants into the ecosystem that put adults, children, and animals at serious health risk. The group also highlights that mowed lawns prevent native wildlife from settling, while meadows provide a place for local insects and animals to live and gather food for survival.

The plot installations are scheduled to remain in place for one year following their construction, at which point relevant groups will reevaluate the success of the project and determine whether to expand it the amount of field space devoted to untouched meadow.

(Matthew Hornung and Olivia Gieger)

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