Every time it rains, fertilizers, herbicides, bacteria from pet waste, and chemicals flow from our properties into local waterways. This pollution can make it unsafe for people and wildlife. The James River Association created the River Hero Home program to celebrate individuals who take steps to improve their home, pledge to take action for the James and become a hero for our community and our river. Becoming a River Hero Home is a simple way to help protect the James River to ensure its health and enjoyment for future generations.

This October, we’ll be highlighting our River Hero Homeowners all month long so that you can #MeetOurHeroes and hear firsthand how they’re making a BIG difference for our river!

Drew Harrigan lives just outside of Richmond on Jimmy Winters Branch which flows to Powhite Creek. He highlights the importance of native plants and the benefits they provide below.

As a James River Association River Hero Home Program our family tries to utilize all materials that come to our property and take advantage of all the resources that come our way. Vegetable scraps and shredded office paper are recycled in a layered compost, stormwater is directed towards trees and shrubs, and rainwater is collected for irrigation. It took many years but this is our second growing season with no invasive species on the property and we’ve seen an increase in pollinators that live in and around our native plants. When an old white oak fell in a storm, we made the most of it by milling the wood on site into materials for a fence, raised vegetable garden, and mulch. It cost less than having the tree removed! A tall grass meadow provides great wildlife habitat and protects the creek in our backyard from stormwater runoff – we live just outside of Richmond but have a wonderful array of wildlife in and around that meadow: hummingbirds, fox, falcons, and flying squirrels. This year we were rewarded with a bountiful vegetable, herb, and berry garden; and a full generation of monarch butterflies on our milkweed! My favorite part of every day is sitting on the patio and watching the activity of nature and feeling like I’m a healthy part of the ecosystem. 

- Drew Harrigan

JRA River Hero Home Member