East Ridge’s new Butterfly Garden honors lifelong work of resident

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East Ridge resident Nancy Fehr cuts the ceremonial ribbon.A special tribute recognizing the tireless work of resident Nancy Fehr took place recently at East Ridge at Cutler Bay when a new Butterfly Garden was officially opened.

Guests for the occasion included community residents, members of The Coral Pines Garden Club, District XII of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, and Fairchild Garden volunteers.

The Coral Pines Garden Club developed the idea for the Butterfly Garden and worked with East Ridge making it a reality. While the purpose was to create habitat for endangered butterflies, they also wanted to honor the efforts of Fehr. The 92-year-old has lived at East Ridge since 2003 and is a garden club member and lover of flowers and plants.

Fehr has been a member of the National Garden Club for 67 years, has served as a Master Flower Show Judge and is active in the gardening community at East Ridge. In 2017, she was instrumental in bringing Fairchild Garden’s “Million Orchids Project” to East Ridge, a project which is reintroducing millions of native orchids to South Florida. She has been a Fairchild volunteer for over 15 years most recently volunteering in the Butterfly Conservatory.


Jean Hawa, director of District XII of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, is amazed not only by what Fehr has done but what she continues to do.

“Nancy is an inspiration. She has more energy than all of us,” Hawa said.

Sandra Deery, president of the Coral Pines Garden Club, explained the goal of the garden is to create a habitat for endangered butterflies. She said because each butterfly lays its eggs on a particular plant, plants were selected which could host one of several of Florida’s endangered butterfly species.

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.

“We have so many issues in the world today, but gardening is something that we can do as we are custodians of this land,” she said. “There is joy in seeing the plants grow over time. Gardening is a service for the community and the world.”

After learning that a bench in the Butterfly Garden would have a special plaque with her name, Fehr was overwhelmed with emotion.

“I can’t explain how honored I am,” she said with a few tears. “I’m absolutely overwhelmed.”

When asked whether she wanted to have a seat on the bench that displayed her name, she said, “I’m not a sitter; I never have been.”

Other contributing community groups and businesses were the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs District XII, the National Garden Club, Trimscape, Casey’s Corner Nursery and Galloway Farm Nursery.

East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true lifecare retirement community.

The not-for-profit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 SW 87 Ave.

The community offers a continuum of care including independent and assisted living apartment homes in a neighborhood setting, respite and skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services available within Three Palms Health Center. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 305-256-3564 or visit www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com.


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