The Sisters of Saint Francis, Tiffin OH, own 500 acres on the south side of Tiffin. The FELC sits at the edge of their farm fields with approximately 385 acres of their land farmed conventionally with corn, wheat & soybeans.
As you approach the Sisters property from St. Francis Ave., you will notice splashes of colors amongst the green of the expansive lawn. These are areas of meadows & prairies, which are replacing the large grass lawn with low maintenance and wildflower friendly grasses and forbes. During the summer these areas are filled with flowers, which attract many species of butterflies.
As you venture beyond the main convent building you will encounter two garden areas. The herb and flower garden is completely handicapped accessible. The 1/8-acre garden is planted with a great variety of plants. Several species of culinary and medicinal herbs occupy sections of the garden that are just waiting for you to enjoy their fragrant aroma. Throughout the summer season every color of the rainbow can be found upon the many flowers, which adorn the path. Butterflies flutter across the garden sipping nectar from the waiting flowers.
Down a gentle slope to the east of the herb & flower garden is the vegetable garden. Stretching out to 1-_ acres in size, it provides a bounty of food for the sisters kitchen. All of the food from this organic garden is utilized either fresh on the dinner table, canned or frozen. By setting aside portions of the garden, rotating crops and providing tender loving care this garden continues to provide wholesome food year after year.
Currently a children’s garden is being developed next to the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center.
The FELC building is a model of sustainable development. Inside the building there is an exhibit explaining how permaculture design was the driving force behind the renovation of the building.
Venturing beyond the FELC building will lead you past the buildings of the campus and into nature’s realm. As the paved road heads south for another mile before ending at the house occupied by the family that farms the property for the sisters. Along the way a grass pathway leads down to the wetlands. These two wetlands are one of the best places on the property to bird watch. Throughout the year many birds utilize the cattails, willows, cottonwoods, berry patches and other plants for food and protection. A visit during a wet season can also find ducks, geese, and other waterfowl floating about or nesting. The wetland to your right as you come down the trail has a short boardwalk ending in a platform with a bench. Enjoy some quite time there before you head back to the paved road.
Approximately _ mile after the wetland trail a gravel parking area to right will beckon you towards the woodland trail. A short distance into the woods the trail will go either to your left or right, taking you on a loop back to where you started from. There is also an extension at the farthest point of the loop. As you walk the approximately 1/3 mile trail, listen for the squirrels chattering from the oak, hickory, and walnut trees. Look carefully for the silent owls which nest in surrounding trees. Carefully turn over a log to discover the thousands of animals that are turning it into rich soil. During early spring, you can stop to smell and admire the wildflowers that carpet the ground.
Connecting many of these areas are fencerows that allow the smaller animals to move from one area to another in safety. As you walk along these fencerows, look above you in the skies for the predators that the smaller animals are hiding from. Several varieties of hawks, and Bald Eagles are common sighting in the skies above.
All of the areas mentioned above are utilized for the educational programs that we offer.