Green Days at Burpee

Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20, is the first of several weekends when the Burpee Museum staff and volunteers will prepare the museum grounds for the up-coming season. Every third weekend of each month—March through October—volunteers young and old are invited to help Burpee staff with light work to green up the grounds. March green activities include picking up branches for the habitat brush pile, removing debris and trash, turning the compost bin, and setting up the worm bin.

What began last year with a few staff volunteering their weekends to improve the museum property has mushroomed into the “Burpee Goes Green” campaign. This effort is intended to reduce the Museum’s ecological footprint and set an example for the community, while at the same time implementing eco-friendly landscape improvements to the Burpee’s North Main Street campus.

Three major segments of the Burpee Goes Green project include: Green Roof (the first-ever rooftop garden in Rockford region); a rain garden; and construction/maintenance of composting and recycling bins.

The Burpee Museum’s Green Roof is the first example of this environment-friendly facility developed and installed in the Rockford region. Located atop the Museum’s carport roof, the 720-sq.-ft. Green Roof is visible from North Main Street and from the bay window of the Museum’s “Windows to Wilderness” exhibit.

A new trend in architecture and landscaping, green roofs help reduce negative environmental impacts of buildings while adding attractive greenery and natural spaces.

Ken Hendricks and ABC Supply Company of Beloit, Wis., and Weston Solutions, Inc. developed Burpee’s Green Roof specifically for the Museum.

Generally speaking, Green Roofs benefit their surrounding environment in four ways:

1) increasing energy efficiency of building by adding an additional layer of insulation from extreme temperatures;

2) absorbing rainfall, easing burden on municipal sewer systems and cutting down on run-off;

3) absorbing and recycling environmental pollutants from the atmosphere that falls to ground via rainfall; and

4) providing homes for insects, birds and other wildlife.

In addition to the Green Roof, the Museum has also added two Rain Garden spaces and a compost bin and a worm bin to its grounds as part of the “Burpee Goes Green” campaign. Rain Garden spaces can be found along the riverbank portion of the Museum grounds and in a troublesome “low spot” at the rear of the Museum building. By utilizing plant species that thrive in wet conditions the Museum is transforming low places with poor drainage into lush, blooming, virtually self-sustaining gardens.

A natural extension of Burpee’s recycling program, the compost and worm bins provide the best and easiest way to get rich fertilizer for garden and landscape plants. Burpee’s traditional compost bin relies on the action of microorganisms and bacteria to naturally break down a variety of organic waste into fertilizing compost. Burpee’s Worm Bin takes advantages of churning movement of common earthworms to naturally decompose organic material into compost fertilizer and is a new aspect of eco-friendly gardening.

To ensure the museum has healthy trees on its grounds for many years, Burpee’s trees receive special care from Tree Care of Rockford and Tyler’s Landscaping. Angelic Organics supplies worms for the worm bin and a rain garden was planted with all native plants from Enders Greenhouse in Cherry Valley. Funding was also provided by the Lieutenant Governor’s Rain Garden Initiative.

Established in 1941, the Burpee Museum is one of the preeminent natural history museums in Illinois and home of JANE, Rockford’s Celebrity Dinosaur. Its mission is to inspire all people to engage in a lifetime of learning about our natural world. JANE: Diary of a Dinosaur exhibit to open June 29.

Free parking is available at the Burpee Museum at 737 N. Main St., or in the Riverfront Museum Park parking lot directly next door at 711 N. Main St. Burpee hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $4/adult; $3/child (ages 3-17). Members are free. For further information, call 815-965-3433 or log on at

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