Harvesting the Rain in a Children’s Garden

Reader Contribution by Wendy Gregory
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Based in Columbus, Ohio, Rain Brothers LLC installs rainwater harvesting systems for residential and commercial properties as well as providing for DIYers ready to take on small residential projects themselves. Founded 11 years ago with the goal of providing sustainable access and use of water throughout the state of Ohio, Rain Brothers offers systems to help businesses and homeowners become more sustainable and conserve water resources. Between the two owners, Johnathan Meier and Gordy Smith, they have over twenty years of combined experience in rainwater harvesting.


Their installations range from single residential rain barrels to cisterns that can hold tens of thousands of gallons of water. Most projects consist of irrigating with the rainwater, since rainwater has several advantages over city water. Rain Brothers also install systems where the rainwater is filtered to potable-quality for use in private water systems, specifically in rural areas where public water is not available. They’ve installed systems where rainwater is used to supply toilets and laundry. Their projects include above ground rain storage at Franklin Park Conservatory, a cistern system for the Ohio Governor’s Mansion, restoring a hand pump and historical well and installations at The Ohio State University.


Johnathan Meier, one of the ‘brothers’ and appropriately from a family of well drillers, installed a system for AHA! Children’s Museum in Lancaster, Ohio, to irrigate a raised bed garden as part of the Raymond B. Martens Nature Playscape. With funding provided by the City of Lancaster Stormwater Manager as a public education project in the use of stormwater, the system included a ‘silo’ that reflected the area’s agriculture heritage and holds 1480 gallons of harvested rainwater from the roof of the 8000 sq. ft. museum.


Working with a playscape and vegetable garden design by Amy Dutt of Urban Wild LTD, Johnathan incorporated the silo into the landscape. An automatic timer assured that the raised beds were watered throughout the growing season with the captured rainwater, supplemented by city water during dry times. Used as an educational setting for school tours and families, visitors learned about vegetable growing, storm-water harvesting, tasting new vegetables and even taking home crops raised by the Fairfield County Master Gardeners who also led the garden maintenance and programming.

Wendy Gregoryspent her career working with children as a culinary and gardening teacher in an arts-based summer camp for at-risk children in Nelsonville, Ohio, and as the director of a children’s museum in Lancaster, Ohio. She is a freelance writer exploring the ways seniors can contribute, grow, and reinvent themselves in a new chapter of life. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.


Essential Rainwater Harvesting is a comprehensive manual for designing, building, and maintaining water harvesting systems for the warm and cold climates of the world. Presenting design considerations and approaches for the most common household rainwater supply scenarios – primary, supplemental, and off-grid supply – this step-by-step approach covers:

• Planning for full-property water security
• Guidance on navigating regulatory requirements
• Templates for building your own spreadsheet-based calculation tool
• Site-specific planning and spatial layout
• Materials and component design and selection
• System maintenance and upkeep

Incorporating the latest independent research, this practical resource provides DIYers, trades, and rainwater practitioners with the essential tools, methods, and technical know-how to design, confidently build, and maintain rainwater harvesting systems that produce quality water without necessarily needing end-of-line disinfection or sterilization.

Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

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