Lawn to Legumes Program

James Rentz, one of our elected Soil & Water commissioners recently shared information about a “Lawn to Legumes” program. I was surprised to learn the city had a role in this. One more reason to add Coffee with Local Leaders to your calendar.

I have mentioned this many times, but the reason why it is important for us to do a regular “Coffee with Local Leaders,” is that I / we learn some much from all of you. We always do it every 1st & 3rd Thursday of the Month. Everyone is welcome. I have heard the calls for something after the business day and will be looking into that further.

The City of Rochester collaborated with Olmsted SWCD, Assisi Heights, Friends of Indian Heights Neighborhood, and Eastside Neighborhood to submit two applications for the Lawns to Legumes demonstration neighborhood grant requesting $40,000 for each project.  Attached are the two maps of the projects areas: Assisi Heights/Friends of Indian Heights Neighborhood and Eastside Neighborhood. Aaron Gamm is my partner at Olmsted SWCD.  Olmsted SWCD applied as the fiscal agent for the Eastside Neighborhood application and Assisi Heights applied as the fiscal agent for the Assisi Heights/Indian Heights application. 

We are also encouraging Rochester and Olmsted County residents to apply for the individual support grants.  We have a workshop with Blue Thumb on February 24 to assist residents with the application and planning for their pollinator habitat projects.  The workshop will be at Cascade Meadow from 6pm – 8pm.  The workshop is free, but we request registrations:

For residents who can’t attend the workshop and would like help or have questions, I am the local Lawns to Legumes contact for Rochester residents.  I’m also presenting on Lawns to Legumes at Prairie Smoke’s Annual Meeting in Chatfield on January 26. This meeting is open to the public and starts at 2pm at the Chatfield Library.

Additionally, I am in the process of updating and expanding our “Realize Rain Gardens Rochester” cost-share grant to include the pollinator plantings recommended in the Lawns to Legumes program.  We typically budget $5000 annually in the stormwater budget for these grants.  I’d like to remove the cost-share component and instead require a 25% match either cash or in-kind to increase accessibility to these funds.  My goal is to have the program be updated and posted online by February 1st.  In addition to the two funding mechanisms through Lawns to Legumes, residents can apply for the city’s program.

As James said, we are encouraging people to apply for the individual support to show interest in the program and support any state budget requests to continue the Lawns to Legumes program.  Blue Thumb is administering the individual support part of Lawns to Legumes; the City of Rochester is a member of Blue Thumb and I serve on their steering committee.

Thank you for checking in on this.  I’m very excited about the momentum with creating pollinator habitat (and the benefit to stormwater pollution).


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