By Ryan Horton
Eastern Oklahoma County is working to become a quality stop for traveling Monarch butterflies passing through on their annual migration.
What’s now a community garden and Monarch butterfly waystation in downtown Harrah was a vacant lot just a few years back.
A team of volunteers started growing vegetables, flowers, native plants, fruit trees and a variety of food for important pollinators.
That empty Main Street lot has totally transformed.
Located at 20793 Main Street, the community garden brings beauty and food production to town through a continued collaboration between the Friends of the Park nonprofit, the City of Harrah and local garden volunteers.
This past summer work began on a mural on the blank side of the next-door Harrah fire station building.
Monarch butterflies have now become an unofficial mascot of the historic downtown district, Sweeney Switch.
A larger-than-life depiction of the monarch’s life cycle educates visitors and serves as a pleasant backdrop for street festivals and other events planned for Sweeney’s Switch in downtown Harrah.
Across the street, Harrah Friends of the Park took another empty lot and created an outdoor pavilion for food trucks and vendors.
“Thank you all for the patience and for giving me such a wonderful subject to paint. I love Harrah and I will be visiting often,” said artist Chris Presley, with OKCmurals.com.
“What they are doing in downtown Harrah, their environmental and conservancy efforts really speak to the heart of that town, it’s a magical little spot full of magical people.”
With the completion of the mural, foot traffic has picked up on Main Street as The Lumber Shack is now open to anchor the entertainment district.
Choctaw Creek Park Waystation receives $3,000 grant
Choctaw Creek Park Waystation is pleased to announce it has received a $3,000 grant from the OKlahoma City Community Foundation and its Parks and Public Space Initiative.
The grant will be used to assist in funding expansion, which will allow Choctaw Creek Park Waystation to meet the health, cultural, and recreational needs of citizens in Oklahoma County.
The mission driving Choctaw Creek Park Waystation is to encourage and inspire the community to understand the importance of a healthy ecosystem through the conservation of monarch butterflies.
“We are so pleased to have received this grant,” says the project director, Brandi Buys.
“The expansion of Choctaw Creek Park Waystation will encourage greater use of the area by area residents. We appreciate the support of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.”
With the support of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation the landscape of Choctaw Creek Park Waystation will increase in size, providing space for more resources to sustain the monarch migration and many more pollinators. Additional space will allow for benches to be placed within the garden, encouraging visitors to stay longer and comfortably observe the life within it. Choctaw Creek Park Waystation is designed to educate and inspire and with this contribution informative signage will be posted, encouraging visitors to interact with the conservation.
Motivation for Choctaw Creek Park Waystation began in November of 2019 and was promptly installed, supplying monarchs with the necessary host and nectar plants for the 2020 Spring migration. Choctaw Creek Park Waystation is Choctaw’s only community monarch conservation habitat and is registered and certified by Okies for Monarchs, The Monarch Watch Organization, and The National Wildlife Federation. Hundreds of monarchs were observed and documented for researchers of The Journey North Organization.
Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that works with donors to create charitable funds that will benefit our community both now and in the future. Grants awarded through the Parks and Public Space Initiative support programs that encourage the use of public parks for recreation, health, and wellness activities. For more information about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, visit www.occf.org.