Volunteers build demo rain garden at local restaurant

Home owners, business owners, and commercial property managers interested in storm water management practices can check out a rain garden at Bite Restaurant, 1279 State Route 131, Milford. Volunteers built the demonstration project on a beautiful Friday morning in June.

Rain gardens use native plants to manage storm water runoff, said Kat Zelak, Education Coordinator, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District. They help water soak into soil faster, important because of the high clay content here.

“Having storm water more quickly infiltrate the soil through the garden instead of running into streams and rivers allows pollutants to be removed in a natural way,” Zelak said.

Like the garden at Bite Restaurant, most sit at the end of downspouts. Others are located at the end or driveways, in low spots in yards or where the biggest need exists.

Soil & Water reached out to Bite, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in April, about the demonstration project. The restaurant “believes that eating local is part of a bigger picture, the slow food movement,” according to its website. “A movement that believes the future of food is the future of the planet. That food should nourish a healthy lifestyle, and be fresh, seasonal and local. And it provides us with a smaller carbon footprint in the process. We believe in using nontoxic cleaners in the restaurant. Our organic grounds now include a beehive, composting, recycling, and re-purposing bins.”

“They came to me, and I thought it was a great idea,” said Rachel Seeberger, who owns the restaurant with her husband Marc. Bite grows organic vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts on its two-acre property. Seeberger noted that she teaches classes on gardening and sustainability to garden clubs and schools. She welcomes having a visual to show how a rain garden works.

Zelak said the rain garden includes strawberries, blue flag iris, yarrow, ashy sunflower, New England aster, bee balm and purple cone flower.

Volunteers from Soil & Water, the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources Conservation Service helped plant the garden.

A Greater Cincinnati Rain Gardeners program has started in Clermont, Hamilton, Warren and Butler counties in Ohio as well as Northern Kentucky. The six-week class teaches people how to build their own rain gardens. The next session starts in August. Classes run 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays. See cincyraingardener.org for details.