AMHERST DESIGNATED A POLLINATOR FRIENDLY COMMUNITY

Thuya Gardens, Mt Desert Island, Maine. Photo: flckr.com

Pollinators and other insects have been hit hard all over the world in recent decades, putting the survival of humans and most terrestrial animals in jeopardy. Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. At the current rate of population collapse, they could be functionally gone by the end of the century. Causes of their decline include loss of habitat, widespread use of toxic pesticides in agriculture, climate disruption, and light pollution. 

As part of a regional campaign to support pollinator populations initiated by Western Mass. Pollinator Networks, the Town of Amherst adopted a non-binding resolution on June 15 endorsing the protection of pollinators and enhancement of pollinator habitat on Town-owned land. The resolution, which was offered by Amherst for Pollinators, received the enthusiastic endorsement of the Amherst League of Women Voters, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Climate Action Now, Mothers Out Front, UMass Graduate Student Senate, Brookfield Farm, Old Friends Farm, Many Hands Farm Corps, Simple Gifts Farm, Sunset Farm, and the Amherst Conservation Commission and the Amherst Agricultural Commission.

The resolution declares Amherst to be a Pollinator-Friendly Community and commits the Town to providing habitat and adopting management practices that welcome pollinators. These measures include planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants to support the foraging needs of caterpillars and adult insects throughout the growing season; mowing lawns every other week or as needed at a height of no more than three or four inches in order to allow flowering plants to blossom; and minimizing the use of pesticides by adopting organic or chemical-free lawn and landscaping practices. It is hoped that the Town’s example will educate and inspire property owners, businesses, and other entities to join them in creating and protecting pollinator habitat in Amherst.

Landscaping for nature is a richly rewarding adventure that allows us to closely observe a variety of plants and animals and learn about their needs and interactions. Lists of native pollinator-friendly plants, nurseries where organically grown seeds and plants can be purchased, and landscape professionals can be found at the Western Mass. Pollinator Networks website. You can also order a plaque from WMPN proclaiming that your land meets the needs of pollinators throughout their life cycles, which is a great way to spread the word and inspire other homeowners to join the growing number of pollinator-friendly gardeners. Many perennials are capable of spreading and multiplying, providing an abundant supply of extra plants to pass on to friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers so that they can join the fun and start or expand their own pollinator gardens.

Those who are interested in offering ideas and suggestions for a campaign to support pollinators or participating in establishing and maintaining public pollinator plantings can contact John Root at 413.961.9059 or info@earthwiselandscaping.com.

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2 thoughts on “AMHERST DESIGNATED A POLLINATOR FRIENDLY COMMUNITY

  1. Hear, hear to less lawn mowing! While most lawns in Amherst are yellow or brown, ours is still pretty green — and diversely flowerful.

    The secret?

    We’ve yet to mow it! Once we started growing various fruit trees along the two streets on which we front, the lawn began slowing down, and lots of other meadow plants found their way over from the fields behind the corner Marks Meadow and Dakin Estate (now the UMass Renaissance Center). Rather that “fight” this transition, we’ve decided to “just go with the flow….”

    The Renaissance Center mows broadly only once or twice a year, with a first mowing after 15 July to accommodate ground-nesting birds (though perimeter paths that allow us to connect to the UMass campus by foot or bike are mowed earlier and more frequently).

    Back on my own mini-orchard/lawn, I recently use a scythe-like device to knock some ripe seed-heads off the various tall grasses — free re-seeding! — that had grown up along our own paths, or at the street edge, and, sooner or later, maybe I’ll get around to mowing some places a bit lower, once a good soaking rain is forecast….

  2. corner —> former [“auto-correct” does the darnedest things to my prose poetry ;-]

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