More than a third of the world's food crops rely on pollination by insects and other animals. 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. What if half — or even all — of Vermont schools, churches, government organizations and businesses left a let a portion of their property grow wild and un-mowed, or planted a garden bed with pollinator-friendly plants? It would help create a connecting corridor of plants to provide sustenance, shelter and breeding areas for the wild and native bees and other pollinators that are in trouble.
The steps needed to make a difference are as simple as leaving a designated space on your organization’s lawn unmowed. By working together, Vermonters can have a significant impact on the well-being of pollinators in our state.
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 across Vermont. The initiative is also highlights Vermont nonprofits working to promote pollinator conservation. The initiative also highlights Vermont's organizations working to promote pollinator conservation. Big thanks to Gardener’s Supply and American Meadows as well as a team of Seventh Generation volunteers for supporting Wild for Pollinators!
LEARN HOW EASY IT IS TO BEE INVOLVED AND REGISTER!
To join the initiative, simply leave an area unmowed to allow natural habitat to develop, create a garden bed or container garden with plants selected to benefit pollinators, or create an entire landscape designed to benefit pollinators. If you already have a pollinator garden or plan on creating one in the spring, please register below. The site should be equal to or larger than 5' by 15' or 75 square feet, and no pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides can be used. Once you have signed up for the initiative we will send you a sign to put in front of your site, and everyone will know that you are Wild for Pollinators! We realize the ground may be frozen now, but please display your sign, plan your designated area, register and be ready for spring.
EDUCATE AND BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY
Pollinator habitat can be a great tool for educating and building your 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 space. If you’re a community garden leader, or if you want some ideas of how to educate and build community around your pollinator garden, read Vermont Community Garden Network’s Toolshed Tips for Garden Leaders to learn more.
Want to transform your school yard into an outdoor classroom? Check out KidsGardening's Pollinator Resources:
MEET THE VERMONT POLLINATORS THAT NEED OUR HELP
Vermont is home to thousands of pollinators: bees, butterflies, and more. There are 275 species of bees alone in our state. And Vermont recently added three species of bumble bee to its threatened and endangered species list. Pollinator populations are in sharp decline primarily due to pesticide use, disease and parasite problems, and loss of food and nesting habitat. Click on the causes to learn more about why pollinator populations are declining: pesticide use, neonicotinoids, non-native species, diseases and parasites, loss of food and nesting habitat, climate change, colony collapse disorder and more.
WINTER IS A GREAT TIME TO BEE PLANNING
Winter is a good time to make plans for creating or increasing pollinator habitat on your property. According to Xerces Society, “Stepping–stone habitat patches, which may be nothing more than ‘weeds’ growing in a field margin or on a road verge, can meet these needs. A tolerant maintenance crew that doesn’t disturb these areas in the spring rather than cutting or spraying them may help provide the feeding or egg–laying resources these migrating pollinators require.”
ACT LOCALLY THINK NATIONALLY
This initiative is an example of acting locally and thinking nationally as we’re encouraging people who have already created pollinator habitat to sign on to the Wild for Pollinators registry, which is connected to the national Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. We also want to thank Gardener’s Supply, American Meadows and Seventh Generation for supporting Wild for Pollinators.
BEE INFORMED – POLLINATOR INFO FOR ADULTS AND KIDS
- Vermont Community Garden Network Opportunities and Resources
It’s important to plant for a pollinator’s entire life cycle. To learn more, please visit the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge for ideas that will work here in Vermont. If you’re in Chittenden county Gardener’s Supply, with stores in both Burlington and Williston, carries many pollinator-friendly plants suitable for Vermont. Another helpful regional resource is Northeast Pollinator Plants. For help choosing appropriate plants, check out the Pollinator Partnership’s New York and New England specific Selecting Plants for Pollinators Guide.
American Meadows, based in South Burlington, Vt., is a national online seed company specializing in wildflower seeds, and also offers perennial plants, flower bulbs and vegetable seeds. Thanks to American Meadows we are supplying BEE the Change wildflower seeds with every Wild for Pollinators sign. High Mowing is another Vermont company offering a variety of seeds.
OUR POLLINATOR GARDEN AND WILD SPACE AT THE INTERVALE
To provide ideas you can use in your own landscape, we’ve planted two garden beds at the Intervale Center in Burlington with mainly native flowering plants offering food and shelter to pollinators. We’re also letting an area near the gardens “go wild,” creating a natural space that will provide pollinators with food, shelter, and nesting areas. Adding pollinator-friendly gardens and/or wild, uncultivated spaces to your property are great ways to help the insects we depend on and show that you are “wild for pollinators!”
ABOUT THE COLLABORATING PARTNERS
KidsGardening.org is one of the founding conservation and gardening organizations of the National Pollinator Garden Network, an initiative of the Obama Administration, which launched a nationwide campaign called the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge in 2015. Designed to spur the creation and preservation of pollinator habitats across North America, the Challenge is a call to action to help reverse the decline of pollinators such as honey bees, native bees, and butterflies. KidsGardening.org helps educate young gardeners about the vital role of pollinators and the importance of protecting and nurturing them through its educational materials, activities, curriculum, events, and outreach.
The Intervale Center and Vermont Community Garden Network already manage and support many pollinator gardens in the state. In addition to native perennial gardens at their homestead, the Intervale Center manages hedgerows and forests in the Burlington Intervale in support of pollinator habitat and hosts a one-acre pollinator sanctuary in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Intervale Center’s Conservation Nursery plants 20,000+ native trees each year, largely on farms, creating diverse habitat for the insects that are a critical component of our food web. Vermont Community Garden Network works with hundreds of community-based gardens all over the state. These vibrant food production and community-building sites create habitat for – and benefit from – a wide variety of pollinators. Many of these sites have dedicated pollinator-friendly plantings and/or wild areas. Additionally, Vermont Community Garden Network’s Community Teaching Gardens in Burlington include pollinator and beneficial insect plantings.