The following blog post was submitted to CLCC by Harvey Pessin of the Newtown Forest Association.
The Newtown Forest Association (NFA) suffers many of the same ills as other land trusts, including visibility and name recognition. To help address this challenge, we are always looking for outreach projects, as well as land management projects where we can lead by example.
As a stroke of luck, we have a 3.8 acre property on the main road through Newtown. On average, 25,000 people pass this property each day. The property was undertutilized, mostly fescue grasses, and a lot of poison ivy. Two years ago, we decided to take advantage of this property by transforming it into a flower/pollinator meadow. To encourage public involvement, we asked town residents to contribute flower seeds from their own properties -- and it worked! Going forward, everybody who contributed seeds could consider themselves a part of this project. One donor in particular stands out. A most elegant 93 year-old woman who has a stunning 26 acre garden of her own, contributed 2 pickup truck loads of Rudbeckia root cuttings, plus the assistance of her gardener for two days to help plant the root cuttings. As we pulled out of her driveway with the cutting laden truck, she proclaimed that those flowers will allow her to live forever in Newtown.
This is the second year of NFA’s Pollinator Meadow Project. The Rudbeckia is now 7 feet tall. As fame of our pollinator meadow spread, we’ve had additional inputs from town residents. We’ve had local garden clubs plant perennials, individuals also contributed root cuttings, plugs, and full-sized perennial plants to the meadow. Some groups also contributed their sweat equity to actually plant full grown plants. We’ve had visits from neighboring towns’ conservations commissions to replicate our project.
The Blackman Preserve Meadow Project is now on the register of the National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) -- an unprecedented collaboration of national, regional, and local gardening clubs. Its purpose is to help restore critical pollinator populations in support of President Obama’s Executive Strategy to “Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” NPGN collectively represents approximately 800,000 gardeners, 10,000 schoolyard gardens and a baseline of a 250,000 registered pollinator gardens nationwide from across its five main founding organizations. The focus of the NPGN is to inspire individuals and community groups, institutions and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitats through sustainable gardening practices, habitat conservation and provide these groups the tools to be successful.
The last thing we would add, and we only add this cautiously because we can’t be exactly sure that it is true but one of the clubs who planted in the meadow has members on Newtown’s Conservation Commission. We’re not sure that there is a direct correlation, but this year the town of Newtown set aside six of the most beautiful acres of field in town, called the High Meadow, borrowed a drill seed planter, and planted several thousand dollars of flower seeds. We can’t think of a better way of spending our tax dollars! I suspect we will soon have a pollinator meadow competion. Game on!
For questions and further information, contact the NFA at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (203) 270-3650