Practicing [email protected]

See more of their place in this TikTok video.

Before reaching the driveway, I knew immediately that I had come to the right place. Looking to my left, I saw purple and yellow coneflowers, black-eyed Susans and a number of other native species of prairie plants. Pulling into the driveway of Randy and Jessie Crow Mermel’s property, the first thing I noticed is that their house is a geodesic dome. How cool is that? Next to the driveway, a small stream emptied into a pond, greeting visitors with a trickle of water and the sights and sounds of a variety of birds that were using the pond to quench their thirst or hunt for bugs. As we were escorted around the property, a generous supply of native plants were discovered all throughout the property. Most that we observed were sun-loving, but their woods no doubt bloom with a variety of spring ephemerals.

Formally used as a Christmas tree farm, mature pines border their yard, with mature walnut, sugar maples (they make excellent syrup we were told) and oaks providing shade for a large portion of their yard. Their native grasses, prairie plants, raspberry patches and trees, most alive but some dead, all provide excellent food sources and habitat for wildlife. The invasive black locust has been used in a number of construction projects, as the wood is insect-resistant. We saw some of this in the support columns of the roof of their wood-fired pizza oven.

Composting, utilizing rain barrels, having geothermal heating and cooling and using a composting toilet are just a few examples of the ways that Jessie and Randy are minimizing their impact on the earth.

– by Mark Luthin, NLI Trustee and Education Committee Chair

Welcome to NLI’s [email protected] program Randy and Jessie! Thank you for all you do to protect and preserve nature. 

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