Butterfly Garden Feeds Pollinators

By Cindy Lindh

A gathering of groups in Sonoma brought focus to the urgency of protecting pollinators during Pollinator Week. Championed by Mayor Logan Harvey who signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Monarch Mayors’ Pledge a year ago on behalf of The City of Sonoma to protect and to provide habitat for Monarch Butterflies, he was pleased to see the campaign’s active and expanded embrace by the community. He commented that this campaign has broader reach than just serving to benefit Monarchs as, in doing so, it amplifies the much needed benefit to rescue numerous other species as well. Like the rest of the attendees, and wildlife groups in general, the mayor remains hopeful that this will not be the last summer for the Western Monarch Butterfly as has been predicted by various researchers from UC-Davis to the Xerces Society and others. He encourages residents to participate in an all out effort to garden on behalf of all pollinators which are disappearing globally at an alarming rate.

Attendees initially gathered at the Monarch/Pollinator Garden at 252 W. Spain Street behind First Congregational Church/Shir Shalom to exchange native seeds, native plants, and a bounty of ideas. Each group recognized that pollinators are a keystone species which hold our ecosystems together, support the air we breathe, the food we eat, the beverages we consume, and the medicines we take.

Representatives united from the following groups include:

CA State Historic Park - Vallejo Home

First Congregational Church - Earth Care Committee

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Sonoma Ecology Center

Sonoma Land Trust

Valley of the Moon Garden Club

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

“Ms. Frizzle” and her Magic School Bus

Attendees went on to tour the CA State Historic Park-Vallejo Home greenhouse and lath house where a preponderance of native milkweed is grown for distribution to the public and for planting on CA State Historic Park property for habitat restoration. Lynn Luzzi demonstrated extensive efforts there to nurture additional native cultivars which originally served to sustain pollinators and other life around the Vallejo Home and in the Sonoma Valley.

They toured the Sonoma Garden Park under the diligent management of the Sonoma Ecology Center where their leadership blooms as the staff endeavors to sustain the ecological health of Sonoma Valley. Jason Mills, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner, pointed out the micro-climate restoration areas within the community where he and his colleagues are working to protect and restore native species and habitats for future generations.

Lisa Segraves from Sonoma Land Trust offered that her organization was equally concerned about the need for planting native plants in order to attract native species, like the besieged monarch butterfly – especially as all species are striving to adapt to climate changes. She explained the organization’s commitment to conservation and the value of biodiversity.

Mia Monroe of Xerces Society for the Conservation of Invertebrates explained that, “Unfortunately, biodiversity loss continues to be a vital issue. We are losing animals at an astonishing rate, yet most of the reporting on this issue does not even consider the loss of insects and other invertebrates. Why should we focus on these small creatures? “

“Insects are vital for ensuring we have viable food systems through pollination, pest control, and soil health. They are also vital as food for wildlife: from birds to fish; insects are a key link in complex food webs across the globe. Without invertebrates, our world would collapse.”

“Our goal is to keep pollinators in our fields and freshwater mussels in our streams. We want to ensure healthy soil ecosystems and fight to keep the most imperiled invertebrates gracing our planet. We want to make sure future generations are able to see monarch butterflies, fireflies, and bumble bees.”

Ms. Monroe stressed the importance of Citizen Science, public participation in scientific research, specifically in the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper: (https://www.monarchmilkweedmapper.org ).

Audrey Fusco, Native Plant Nursery Manager for Turtle Island Restoration Network (https://seaturtles.org ) offered her views on the delicate interdependence of native plant life on land with the need for native plant restoration in our oceans. She quipped the urgency to balance both for the health of the planet and ecosystems overall. The interdependence and fragility of the web of all life depends on it.

“Ms. Frizzle” of The Magic School Bus fame, added that she was impressed with the support of the Valley of the Moon Garden Club whose many members are heeding the challenge to plant native narrow leaf milkweed and nectar producing flowers in their gardens on behalf of Monarch Butterflies and other pollinators. She expressed deep gratitude to the Earth Care Committee at the Congregational Church, “A church, that” she said, “seems to breathe life into the community from the ground up starting right there in the Monarch/Pollinator Garden”. Her fervor for instilling a reverence for life and a love of learning in children bubbled conspicuously.

The group ended their meeting with both of the following thoughts:

You can make a positive difference in your home environment. Provide a diverse assortment of flowering plants and encourage native species in your landscape. Look for alternative ways to deal with pest and disease issues before reaching for a quick fix. These often come at a price. Learn about and practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management). The actions you take in and around your garden can either help reduce or promote the population of pollinators in your landscape. See more at Growing a Greener World.

Finally, from the US Forest Service: We Can’t Live Without Pollinators! Pollination of agricultural crops is valued at 10 billion dollars annually. Globally, pollination services are likely worth more than 3 trillion dollars.

Our Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators!

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