A Boy Scout has planted a rain garden at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield as his Eagle Scout project.
Luke Graham, 17 and a senior at Riverside Brookfield High School, lives on Washington Avenue just north of the park. He conceived of the idea to build a small rain garden in the eastern part of Kiwanis Park a little bit south of the Oak Savanna.
The area is low lying and water often covered the pathway. The standing water that would accumulate was also a breeding ground for mosquitos.
Graham turned to his former next-door neighbor Jeff Swano for help. Swano, who owns the landscaping company Dig Right In, lived in Brookfield for 20 years until moving to Oak Park about a year ago. He is a former chairman of Brookfield’s Conservation Commission. Swano advised Graham about how to build the rain garden and how to deal with village officials.
“He helped us out a lot,” said Graham, a member of Boy Scout Troop 111 based at St. Louise de Marillac School in LaGrange Park.
On July 30 15 people, eight Boy Scouts and seven adults planted the rain garden. Dig Right In supplied a Rototiller and Sod Cutter for free. They dug up the grass and planted a variety of plants that absorb water including swamp milkweed, beebalm, Golden Alexander, Black-eyed Susan, and sensitive fern.
Graham was happy with the result.
“It looks good and it prevents mosquitos,” Graham said.
Graham said the plants and other costs associated with building the rain garden totaled $584.
“I’m just asking for donations from my church and people are giving a lot,” Graham said. “My family gave some, other scouts donate a little bit. It wasn’t as much as we thought so we didn’t have to do anything too big.”
Nick Greifer, director of community and economic development for Brookfield worked with Graham and Swano on the project.
“They did a great job in conceiving the project and then just delivering on it,” Greifer said. “It certainly has a positive impact on the park. It’s already a well utilized park but this just helps make it more useful to the community.”
The village will water the plants for about six weeks. After that they should survive just with normal rainfall.
The deer in the area have been foraging but, aside from one plant species has been mostly leaving the rain garden alone.
An Eagle Scout project must be completed before a Boy Scout turns 18 and leaves the Boy Scouts. Graham has completed his project with eight months to spare. He doesn’t turn 18 until April.
“It feels great,” Graham said of completing the project. “All I have to do now is complete the paperwork and hand it in to them.”