Our Mission is…
“To teach people to steward our earth through classes and events, which promote environmentally sustainable lifestyles, and enhance the nature of our community.”
Who Are We?
The Holton Eco-Preserve (HEP) is a community-service project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Florida. Through the vision of the church, and the generosity of Paul Holton, founder of Holton Foods, Chicago, Illinois, the preserve became a reality. In April 2003, the Holton Eco-Preserve was named, and dedicated to honor Mr. Holton. Until his death in 2006, Paul Holton shared his enthusiasm and remained committed to advancing our goals to provide a native, Southwest Florida habitat that helps children and their families love nature, and live lightly on the earth. In 2006, the congregation of Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers committed to be a Green Sanctuary.
Through the ten years since obtaining the Green Sanctuary status, we have continued to work toward our mission and ultimate goal(s). In the last two years, truly exciting things have been happening on the Holton Eco-Preserve… AND IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING!!!
Bill Brewer Family Gardens
Beginning with a dream in the winter of 2015, an idea became a reality with the completion and dedication of the Bill Brewer Family Gardens in September 2016. The 100 raised bed community garden, shaped as a medicine wheel, offers an organic gardening experience for the residents living on the Daniels Corridor and beyond.
Restoration of Natural Habitats
Continued removal of invasive plant species on the preserve has occurred since becoming a Green Sanctuary. To facilitate the development of our natural habitats, we have completed several plantings of native plants, with the last major planting completed this spring. The planting completed this spring is linear in nature and runs along Shetland Lane. It is already providing shelter and food for birds, butterflies and other small animals. Many more planting will continue in the future.
HEP Plant Nursery
To promote development of future habitats and to offer support to the Bill Brewer Family Gardens, the expansion of the HEP nursery has occurred. We now have a misting sprinkler system and shade cloth set up to keep our seedlings healthy. Our ultimate goal is to continue to grow native and butterfly loving plants from seed, take cutting from our native plants to propagate plants to grow and/or sell, and to provide a learning laboratory for those interested in organic gardening.
Around our pond, we have a beautiful walking path that includes two areas to stop, sit and reflect on the beauty that surrounds you. The area we call the “North Woods” extends your walk around the pond, but is seasonally wet. Remember to bring your waterproof boots if you want to visit this wooded habitat in the summer and fall! HEP plans for the future include expansion of our walking trails, with informational signs and/or trail ……….
As part of our goal to establish habitats and bring wildlife back to HEP, the donation and installation of two bluebird boxes occurred the spring of 2016. Within the month, we had a pair of nesting bluebirds! You may see wading birds, or hawks, or our more common birds like blue jays and mockingbirds while visiting HEP. We have planted many areas on the grounds for butterflies to use for nectar and/or to lay their eggs. It would be unusual if you did not see one or more of our SW FL butterflies fluttering about! Although we have the “usual” wildlife – like squirrels - that we all see on a daily basis, you might just be lucky enough to see the otters that come to visit to pond occasionally!
Environmental Education and Awareness
We currently have three monthly classes geared toward organic gardening, herbs, edibles and the use of seasonal vegetables in your kitchen. A plant swap and/or clinic is scheduled once a month for those who like to share and learn hands on. Three annual events/festivals (late winter, early summer and early fall) will feature speakers relevant to the event topic, food and refreshments, raffles and giveaways, a variety of vendors, and a children’s activity area.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING!
BECOME A MEMBER AND HELP US TO MAKE THE HOLTON ECO-PRESERE THE
PREMIER GREEN SPACE ON THE DANIEL CORRIDOR!