February Toolshed: Tips for Garden Leaders

Go Wild for Pollinators While Educating and Building Your Community

Group planting at the Intervale Center in Burlington

By Lily Myers, Wild for Pollinators Intern

February is the perfect time to plan new and exciting projects for your garden, and to think about how to get the community involved in the process. Have you considered creating pollinator habitat at your garden? It’s as simple as setting aside land to grow wild or adding plantings that benefit the diversity of pollinators we have in Vermont: native bees, wasps, butterflies, and more.

Many pollinator populations in Vermont are under stress, posing an increasing threat to the integrity and diversity of the state’s food system. If there already is pollinator habitat in your garden or if you would like to start your own pollinator garden, sign up for the Wild for Pollinators Initiative!

The Educational Component

Pollinators play an essential role in the production of many of the foods we grow in our community gardens. Having a designated space set aside for pollinator habitat at your garden will increase awareness of the importance of pollinators and their declining numbers, and provide a clear example of how habitat can be created. If you want to increase the educational components of this habitat there are many ways you can do so, including:

  • Put up signs to make it clear what you are doing and how. Burlington Cohousing is a great example of this; they put up signs so that people know which specific plants benefit pollinators. More examples of informational signs include pictures and bios of the different kinds of pollinators that visit the habitat, the process of pollination, the different components of pollinator habitat (sources of nectar, nesting places, water, etc.), or any other simple visuals that will bring awareness and foster learning about pollination.
  • Start a school garden club like The Mosaic Program of South Burlington. Garden clubs can plant and maintain a pollinator garden, and by doing so create an outdoor classroom. Children in the afterschool program at Flynn Elementary in Burlington will plant a pollinator garden on site this spring!
  • Start conversations about the importance of pollinators with all of the community members who have plots at the garden. Many may already know about pollinators, providing a great opportunity for educating each other. This can be as simple as posting notices on a shared message board of what pollinators are visiting your plants (butterflies, bees, wasps, flies, birds). If you want to take the conversation deeper, form a pollinator committee to research the pollinators in your garden and share with fellow gardeners which of these pollinator populations are under stress and why.

Use Your Pollinator Garden for Community Building

The Garden on 485 Elm (WCAX photo)

  • Plan and plant your pollinator habitat together. To the right is a picture of community gardeners at The Garden at 485 Elm in Montpelier planting pollinator habitat at their site. At the Intervale in Burlington, VCGN, KidsGardening.org, Intervale Center staff, and volunteers from Seventh Generation collaborated for a pollinator planting workday. See who in your community is interested and pay attention to who might be able to play a role. Use the resources listed at the bottom of the page to plan and plant your pollinator garden together in the spring!

BEE Involved 

Joining the Wild for Pollinators initiative is simple. Wild for Pollinators is a community-based initiative created by VCGN, the Intervale Center, and KidsGardening.org to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and encourage the creation of more pollinator and beneficial insect habitat across Vermont. All that is required to join is either a wild area, landscape, or garden bed that is at least 5 by 15 feet, where no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides are used, with a spot for an eye-catching Wild for Pollinators sign. To learn how to create pollinator habitat, choose the right plants, and more, go to www.wildforpollinators.orgRegister your garden now.

Bee Balm

Additional Resources