Meijer Inc.’s Benton Harbor, Mich., store is being transformed into a haven for pollinators thanks to four rain gardens that will also help improve the water quality in nearby Ox Creek. The green infrastructure installation is the area’s largest project of its kind being led by a retailer.
The Midwest retailer partnered with the Berrien County Drain Commission and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission on the project, which will place three rain gardens throughout the Benton Harbor location’s parking lot and another on property next to the store. Meijer has rain gardens at six other locations and another will be constructed in Traverse City, Mich., later this year.
[Read more: "Meijer Keeps an Eye on Great Lakes Pollution"]
"Meijer is committed to Great Lakes stewardship because our waterways are vital to our everyday lives," said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability for Meijer. "Improving the water quality in local watersheds, like Ox Creek, is not only the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint but will ultimately benefit everyone as it improves overall quality in the Great Lakes."
Installation of the main garden began over the summer and takes the place of what was previously overflow parking. Compost soil was added to help infiltrate stormwater and grow native plants, which include about 20 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, such as purple coneflower, butterfly weed and goldenrod.
"Ox Creek does not meet state water quality standards because of sediment and flashy flows, which cause erosion and destroy habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms," said Marcy Hamilton, senior planner/deputy executive director of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, which is managing the project. "The Benton Harbor community is interested in improving Ox Creek and also improving the vitality of the retail area along Pipestone Road/Interstate 94. A rain garden not only brings beauty to an area filled with many parking lots, but also soaks water into the ground, cleanses the water and slows it down, lessening the impact to Ox Creek."
Meijer has been actively pursuing projects to help the environment and recently began tech-enabled beach cleanup projects at Midwest shorelines. The retailer is also sponsoring two Adopt-a-Beach events this month.
Privately owned Meijer operates more than 260 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.