Soybeans Today, Prairie Tomorrow

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Soybeans growing on former golf courses just east of Secor Metropark may have motorists on Central Avenue scratching their heads, but in just a couple years it will be turning heads when a colorful prairie is in full bloom.

The fairways and greens that suited the property’s former purpose are not ideal for sewing native grasses and flowering plants, so the crop is being grown for two seasons to break up the soil and prepare it for planting.

Prairies are made up mostly of grasses, sedges (grasslike plants) and other flowering plants called forbs, which are important for pollinators like butterflies.

The southern part of the property will be reforested with 50,000 trees.

Metroparks purchased the golf courses last year to expand Secor, making it the third largest of the 17 parks in the system. All of the purchase price and a majority of the restoration costs will be paid for with grant funding.

The additional conservation land is important because it lies within the Oak Openings Region, one of the most unique natural areas in Ohio and home to one-third of the rare and endangered species in the state.

A farmer is leasing the land to grow the soybeans, and the money from the lease will go toward the restoration project.

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Before and after: Top, soybeans grow where fairways once were. Above, a prairie in bloom at Secor Metropark