Krupp: Planting for Pollinators

Jul 21, 2017

I wonder what would happen if all Vermont schools, churches, and businesses planted a portion of their property with pollinator-friendly plants for a butterfly garden or a bee habitat.

Across the country and in our own backyards, native bee populations are dropping. More than one-quarter of the bumblebee species in the Northeast are threatened or have disappeared – while all pollinator populations are being threatened by climate change, pesticide use, disease and parasite problems, along with the loss of food and nesting habitat.

But some groups are taking action as part of Vermont’s “Wild for Pollinators” movement. KidsGardening, the Intervale Center, the Vermont Community Garden Network, and other non- and for-profit partners are collaborating to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and encouraging the creation of more pollinator and beneficial insect habitat.

Pollinator habitat is a great tool for educating and building community. A school yard can be transformed into an outdoor classroom, business employees can plant a workplace garden together, and a community garden can create a new shared pollinator space.

The Intervale Center manages hedgerows and forests in Burlington to support pollinator habitat and hosts a one-acre pollinator sanctuary in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Vermont Community Garden Network is working with hundreds of community-based gardens statewide to create still more pollinator habitats.

Since 1855, Rock Point has served as a unique center of the Episcopal Church in Burlington, with one hundred and thirty acres on the shores of Lake Champlain. Recently, the national Church awarded Rock Point a ten thousand dollar grant for the purpose of creating a pollinator meadow on the same acreage that houses Rock Point’s 35-tracker solar farm.

The plan is to transform a stretch of land now mostly filled with weeds and invasive plants into a beautiful meadow of native plants, attractive to pollinators of all kinds. A primary partner in this project is Middlebury-based pollinator expert Bee the Change - that’s spelled B-E-E, like the insect.

I’m adding pollinator plants to my community garden plots in Burlington’s Intervale, and a neighbor is growing milkweed to help Monarch butterflies.

I’m sure a few pollinator plants would be a nice addition to your backyard garden.