Ocean Friendly Gardens, Water Quality, Youth
July 18 2017

OFG project at UNC-Wilmington, North Carolina

by Mara Dias

by Miles Abernathy

This spring the Surfrider club at UNC-Wilmington installed a great Ocean Friendly Garden on campus by working together with the faculty sustainability committee and the Eco Club.  Lead by student Miles Abernathy, the garden is installed in a key location on campus to absorb polluted runoff before it can flow into Bradley Creek.  

Check out this amazing video filmed and directed by Willow Rea that documents the installation and includes an interview of project leader Miles Abernathy explaining the function of the garden.  Or read his summary of the project below. Enjoy the original score written and performed by Willow in the video as well!

Ocean Friendly Rain Garden from Haley Willow Rea on Vimeo.

An Ocean Friendly Rain Garden installed on UNCW Campus

Miles Abernathy

This spring our Surfrider Foundation club was part of another great project in coalition with UNC- Wilmington faculty sustainability committee and the Eco Club. This project would have not been possible without the help of professor Roger Shew, Chris Randal, Kat Pohlman, Hannah Pursley, and our passionate volunteers. 

The overall goal was to implement an Ocean Friendly Garden in a location on campus that would have a great impact on soaking up pollutants that were entering Bradley Creek. This watershed drains over 90% of the water that lands on the UNC- Wilmington campus along with the thousands of residential apartments and houses on nearby properties. 

Stormwater runoff is the primary cause of water pollution in Bradley Creek and the connected Intracoastal Waterway. Development in recent years has increased impervious surfaces on campus, and this is contributing to stormwater pollution in the watershed and bacteria problems downstream. 

On March 18th, our OFG team constructed a 30 x 100 ft. garden sponge to capture and absorb up to 28,000 gallons of potentially polluted water. The location behind Shwartz dorm hall was a perfect place to locate the rain garden to capture runoff from the recently renovated parking lot that added over a half acre of impervious surface, before it enters the adjacent creek. 

To begin the project, we first needed to do background research, completed by professor Shew to determine the soil type. The soil adjacent to the parking area was used to test and determine the permeability and porosity. Seagate soil was the determined type, which has a moderate flow to it and increases our success of capturing runoff. The garden will help water infiltrate into the soil and filter out nasty pollutants coming from cars in the parking lot before they can get into the water downstream.

J.T. Crawford pictured here laying out native plants at their designated location and an easement wall being added to keep the water from infiltrating one of the many creeks running through campus. In coming months we hope to take on a few more gardens and watch as this one continues to grow. 

In action!! Below is Hannah Pursley who is president of Eco Club pictured here, helped a tremendous amount gathering plants to order and staying connected with people who we needed to contact. 

We ordered native plants from two nurseries to for the best plant material and easy maintenance on the grounds crew, which made the process a lot more stream lined. We knew the plants would love their new home because this is their ideal climate to grow in. Another goal we wanted to achieve is to educate future students on the benefits of a rain garden so signs are being installed around the garden to explain the function of the garden and benefits of the native plants. 

Thanks again for everyone who pitched in and helped make this become another great Ocean Friendly Garden BMP (best management practice) installed in New Hanover County. We hope this will stem good growth in the community and lead to more city projects to help our water quality and sense of beauty we have on our coastline.