There was not a spare seat to be had at the opening of the Butterfly Garden at East Ridge. The big surprise of the day was that 92-year-old resident Nancy Fehr was recognized for her volunteer efforts over the years with garden clubs and at East Ridge. When Sandra Deery, President of the Coral Pines Garden Club, made the announcement, the look on Nancy’s face was one of disbelief.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” said Nancy, wiping away her tears.
As a resident of East Ridge for 17 years, Nancy brings joy and positivity, not only to the land, but also to the people. She has been a long-time volunteer at East Ridge and responsible for bringing Fairchild Garden’s “Million Orchids Project” to the life plan community and having native orchids planted in many of the community’s trees.
“Nancy is an inspiration,” said Jean Hawa, Director of the local branch of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. “She has more energy than all of us.”
Nancy joined the National Garden Club at the age of 25 and has been a member since. She has often served as a Master Flower Show Judge.
When asked how Nancy stays so well, she gave credit to her daily dose of red wine, adding, “It’s the only medication I take.”
In addition to her good sense of humor, it is clear that there is more keeping Nancy so vibrant. She is incredibly active and spent very little time sitting during the event.
“I’m not a sitter. I never have been,” she said.
Another secret to her youthfulness could be in the way she channels her passion.
“We have so many issues in the world today. Gardening is something that we can do. We are custodians of this land,” she said.
The Butterfly Garden serves this very purpose. The plants were selected because they make ideal hosts for Florida’s endangered butterfly species. The garden was developed in partnership with the Coral Pines Garden Club working with The garden was developed with the help of Dr. Jaeson Clayborn, President of Miami Blue, the local chapter of North American Butterfly Association, and a professor at FIU and Miami Dade College. He, along with his students, worked with the Club in choosing the right plants and designing the space. The Fairchild Pine Rockland conservation group, “Connect to Protect” assisted with guidance on establishing a watering schedule for the garden’s plants.
One of the butterflies that Deery hopes to attract is the Shaus Swallowtail Butterfly, a federally endangered species that is only found in Biscayne National Park on Elliot Key and Adams Key which is across the bay from East Ridge. According to Deery, the conservation of this butterfly is especially important because a random event, such as a hurricane, could lead to its extinction.
Fehr shares this concern and is passionate about protecting the environment.