April 17, 2024

Woodcreek Gardens Preserves Grand Rapids Legacy

By River Rat Country Feb 17, 2024

A couple in Grand Rapids is working to make the village “greener,” and they don’t even have to leave their property.

Grand Rapids residents Peggy and John Seab purchased the old Orlie Weaver property on the west end of Grand Rapids in October 2018. Mr. Weaver spent much of his life caring for endangered species. He was particularly concerned with waterfowl including swans, geese, and ducks. Mr. Weaver created the Winged Feet Game Farm on this land where there are still remnants of the structures and ponds from his award-winning dedication to the environment.

After Mr. Weaver’s passing in 2006, at the age of 96, the farm was dismantled and the property sold. Invasive species and thorns began to overtake parts of the land. Farmers used the open fields for row crops and hay.

“We were looking for 10 acres in NW Ohio away from the bustle of city life to build our retirement home where we grew up and had family,” Mrs. Seab said. “That’s when we stumbled on a mixed 20-acre parcel of undeveloped land in Grand Rapids. It seemed to have everything to fulfill our interest in restoring farm and neglected land to a natural habitat that is friendly to native plants and wildlife.”

According to Mrs. Seab, the property had open fields for native nut and fruit groves, wildflowers, birds, bees, and butterflies. There was also a small pond for ducks, fish, cattails, and pond lilies. The land included forested areas with mature black walnut, buckeye, and elm trees. Deer, fox, squirrels, woodpeckers, and other wildlife were common.

“Of course, it had a great spot to build a home within one of the greatest locations in NW Ohio that would serve the environment, village, family, and future caring families for generations to come,” said Mrs. Seab.

The Seabs say the path to achieving these goals have been challenging at times.

“There’s much to do to clear the invasive species and restore the natural forest, field, and pond habitat. It is a multi-generational project,” Mr. Seab said. “And, coming from a desk job there’s a huge learning curve but with the help of local services and organizations such as the USDA-NRCS and conservation groups, we’re making progress.”

The Seabs created Woodcreek Gardens to support their vision and continue the legacy of Orlie Weaver to preserve the environment. They started with chestnut and pawpaw groves, elderberry, a meadow thick with coreopsis and partridge pea, a monarch butterfly station, and an assortment of other native wildflowers and grasses.

“Already the bees are buzzing and the butterflies and swallows are flocking to their new habitat,” the Seabs stated in a press release.

The Seabs say, there’s hardly a day they don’t see deer, fox, herons, cottontails, and occasional turkey browsing in the forests and fields and have even spotted the local bald eagles soaring overhead.

“It’s also wonderful to have an area to walk and exercise the dog,” Mrs. Seab contributed. “The Village shops and people are the friendliest around and offer an ambiance you’ll never find in the big city.

The Seabs hope to be able to offer local markets a small selection of chestnuts, pawpaws, walnuts, hickory, and a variety of other local produce and crafting products to the community.

Woodcreek Gardens sits along Hwy 65 and Henry Wood County Line Road.

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