As I sit in my office and look out onto the lush green land here at Procter Center, I’m thinking about what it means to be a good neighbor. The first thing that comes to mind for me is being a good neighbor to our Mother Earth. She is under assault on all fronts and sometimes it can become overwhelming to think about. But what can I do – one tiny person in the universe?

Habitat preservation and restoration are critical factors in treating our Earth like a good neighbor. As they say – we aren’t making any more land, so we best preserve what we have. Backyard habitat restoration can have a really big impact on insects, birds and mammals. Does what I plant in my backyard really make a difference? Yes, it does and in a big way. The bottom of the food chain has been affected by the fact that we have planted many foreign plants in our yards and the insects will not eat those foreign invaders. So what are the insects eating? Probably nothing in your yard. Are all the leaves on your trees intact with no holes?

Birds need insects to feed their babies. If they can’t find a juicy caterpillar or other invertebrate, then they don’t have anything to feed their young and they will starve. Caterpillars may eat your plants and leave holes, but those holes indicate a healthy eco-system in your backyard and you will be blessed with healthy chirping birds and beautiful moths, butterflies and pollinators.

So what do I need to plant in my backyard to attract these things and have a healthy eco-system? In two words – native plants that have been found in Ohio and the region for eons. Insects have evolved to eat these plants and they must have them to keep the bottom of the food chain thriving, which is the foundation for all creatures big and small. Now that is being a good neighbor to our Mother Earth!

At the Procter Center, we have replaced a tangled mess of weeds and grasses with beautiful native plants in both the courtyards that surround the Conference Center. Each plant will be labeled so that you can see what the plant is and how it is growing in our garden in case you would like to plant it in yours. Some examples of native plants that are easy to grow are Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflowers, Butterfly Milkweed, Dense Blazing Star, Royal Catchfly and Sky Blue Aster to name a few.

If you are looking for native plants, try to find a local nursery that specializes in growing natives. Natives in Harmony in Marengo, OH, and Scioto Gardens in Delaware are two that I can recommend. And next time you are at Procter, stop by and I will take you on a tour of our new gardens.

Amy Boyd, Executive Director at Procter Center

Amy Boyd began her ministry as Executive Director of the Procter Center June 1. You can reach Amy at aboyd@diosohio.org.