A push to protect pollinators

About 15 area residents were in the basement of the Castleton Free Library on Oct.14 to learn about creating spaces in their yards to help the pollinator population

This event was called “Creating Pollinator Spaces” and was hosted Sadie Brown and Lia McFarline.

Sadie Brown works at Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District and Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursey.

“Our mission is to produce high-quality seedlings for local restoration and conservation efforts and we do this through the propagation of native seeds,” Brown said.

Brown’s presentation focused on creating pollinator spaces that provide native species with a variety of plants that provide food and nesting space for them.

She helped citizens by going over the do’s and don’ts of creating your own garden in your backyard by informing them about plants that help pollinators survive in Vermont.

Brown emphasized that insect pollinators need native plants for each season.

Residents were encouraged to plant Penstemon, Wild Geranium and Foamflower in the spring, Echinacea, Blazing Star and Bee Balm in the summer, and New England Aster, Swamp Milkweed, and Black Eye Susan in the late summer/fall.

As she went through all of the plants, the audience was whispering about the different plants they have and which ones they didn’t know were native to Vermont.

After Brown finished up her presentation, McFarline was introduced to inform the audience about bees and their connections to creating pollinator spaces.

McFarline and her husband have a bee farm in Benson, Vermont. Her husband does most of the hands-on work with the bees and though she helps out sometimes, she mostly focuses on the company and honey.

McFarline focused on the history of bees and ended with a discussion about their apiaries compared to others.

Their apiaries are filled with several different types of bees, but even though their bees aren’t native they use naturalistic ways to help them thrive in this type of environment.

“We don’t use any pesticides or essential oils, because we have found that it stays inside the wax and hives. And the theory for us is that if it’s a healthy hive like a healthy individual then it will be able to fight off what comes, so that is what we are working on” McFarline said.

Bees play a large role as pollinators and support the growth of trees, flowers and other plants, she said.

Insect pollinators, such as bees, also are pollinators for food crops.

“One in every three bites of food is made possible by pollinators, which means we rely on them a lot in our lives,” Brown said.

Brown ended the event by having people create their own pollinator space.

Supplies were provided and everyone gathered around tables and started to create their own wooden box pollinator spaces to be able to put in their backyard.  Each table was set up with different size blocks of wood that we put together and seed samples were offered.

The library promotes events like this every month.

Jan Jones is a library director at Castleton library and is also a children’s services librarian. She helped set up this event and is interested in doing more to help promote change. 

“If anyone knows of any programs that are environmentally enriching or hands-on, we would love to hear about them!” she said.

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