One Vacant Lot at a Time

Creating Life-Bearing Spaces
If you are interested in creating a life-bearing space in your neighborhood, download our booklet, One Vacant Lot at a Time, and learn more about our story, our management plan, and methods we have developed.

One Vacant Lot


“Seeing native wildflowers fills my heart.  So, being able to help take an empty strip of land and watch its hard, dry soil become looser, darker and richer after the very first wildflowers, was magical.”  Veronica Smith


Migrating Monarch feeding on Rough Blazingstar (Lawrence Wade)

“Creating a thriving prairie out of a wasteland has been a wonderful education in land transformation.  It’s also shown me a way to give back to the planet that does not bring immediate benefit to me, but provides a long term benefit for the health of the local environment.” Michael Smith

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (Sam Barczak)

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer
(Sam Barczak)

It was in 1993 that we first started working at our vacant lot. There was garbage littered everywhere and the land was hard-scrabble. We started small 30’ x 60 feet, and all of the work was done using pick-axes. The dominant plants were leafy spurge, Canada thistle, and ragweed, all indicators of extreme neglect of the land.



I did not know that the land would take on a life of its own, when it was given a caring human touch. Lawrence Wade

Goldfinch nest

Goldfinch nest (Lawrence Wade)


For 20 years we have been restoring this land that is sandwiched between a busy roadway in Minnetonka, Minnesota and a bike path. So people walking by can see what we are doing. Some people stare at us suspiciously or in disbelief when they see us working in such a “weedy” lot. The most classic comment ever made was on an evening when we were swatting mosquitoes and pulling Canada thistle. The passerby looked down at us and said, “What are you doing down there, do you know?”


Yellow-legged Grasshopper (Lawrence Wade)

Yellow-legged Grasshopper
(Lawrence Wade)


In time we expanded the scope of the prairie. Today it is about an acre in size and is a source of food for bees, birds, rabbits, dragonflies, butterflies, and small mammals. Ducks and deer have nested among the plants. Now it has reached a point of aliveness and vibrancy that still requires some tending and weeding, it has a life of its own and the beauty continues to amaze us.




 Friends of the Trail Photo Gallery

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Great Golden Digger Wasp (Lawrence Wade)

Great Golden Digger Wasp
(Lawrence Wade)

Green Darner (Lawrence Wade)

Green Darner
(Lawrence Wade)

Young Cottontail (Sam Barczak)

Young Cottontail
(Sam Barczak)







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4 Responses to One Vacant Lot at a Time

  1. Aaron Wade says:

    Beautiful pictures. Very nice.

  2. Christina Gregory says:

    The fotos are stunning!

  3. laurel wade says:

    this is absolutely amazing, congratulations!! The prairie will always be a part of my childhood memories and as an adult when we come back home.

  4. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Phenomenal! Spelled right or not your work is wonderful! Pictures are awesome too. Thanks!

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