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OSI Commemorates World Environment Day by Creating a New Native Species Garden

September 27, 2021

Pull into the parking lot at OSI headquarters in Aurora and you may notice that there is now a new small but lush native species garden filled with pink and yellow coneflowers, prairie grasses, milkweed, little bluestems and other native plants.

The garden, which was planted in July along with a second near a park bench by the pond next to headquarters, was part of OSI’s company-wide celebration of World Environment Day 2021. Headquarters planted these gardens in line with this year's theme of ecosystem restoration.

“Being a corporate office, we had to think harder about how to incorporate this year’s theme of ecosystem restoration and saw an opportunity while walking through the parking lot,” said Amy Tannhauser, a Corporate Environmental Specialist at OSI. “We got together and came up with the idea of installing native species pollinator gardens to both beautify the area and add biological elements.”

OSI worked with a local landscaping company to design and install the gardens. “We worked with them to identify the native species that would both look good and thrive in this environment,” said Tannhauser. “We now have a wide array of plants that bloom throughout the whole growing season to make sure that pollinators are always present.”

Tannhauser says the Ashland plant in Chicago is interested in continuing the project begun at Aurora. “They don’t have much green space but they committed to a plan over the next couple of years to start restoring it, cleaning it and planting native species,” she said.

“It’s really nice to see the native plants in our office spaces. Hopefully our efforts will help the native insects, such as the monarch butterfly, increase their dwindling populations by providing them with milkweed to lay their eggs,” said Jim Swanson, OSI’s Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for North America. “My family and I planted the same milkweed at home and we enjoy watching the monarch butterflies come back every year and the monarch caterpillars grow.”

Native plants occur naturally in a particular region, and are adapted to the local climate and local soil conditions. They do not require fertilizers but still provide nectar, pollen and seeds that native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals can eat. Other benefits include deep root systems that reduce water runoff and the ability to reduce pollution by removing carbon from the air. They also preserve an area’s natural heritage.

OSI hopes the natural beauty and diversity of the gardens will attract new visitors – both humans and winged creatures alike.

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