By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – The city’s Green Team is looking for a few good men, women and children to participate in a community project that will help educate the public about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
Green Team member and grant writer James Rutala secured a commitment from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to supply hundreds of flowering plants that attract pollinators.
According to Green Team Chairwoman Diane Birkbeck, Public Works Supervisor Ed Stinson was instrumental in getting the 20- by 100-foot plot of land ready for planting. Members of the Public Works Department used a backhoe to remove the dry grass and lined the garden bed with Eco-Soil and mulch from the Atlantic County Utilities Authority.
The site is located on Lafayette Avenue behind the Ventnor Educational Community Center, which has been preserved for open space through the State of New Jersey Green Acres program.
A community planting will be held 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, June 28. The public is invited to help get the plants in the ground. Bring your own garden trowel and gloves.
“It’s a family friendly event,” Birkbeck said. “We were going to do it last year, but we didn’t have a water supply. When the city did some repairs to the pump house, they were able to provide us with a water source.”
Hoses will keep the plants watered until they are well established, and then, nature should take over, unless there is a dry spell, she said. About an inch of water per week will be needed to feed the thirsty plants through the growing season.
Resident Lee Widman, who is a member of Rutgers University Environmental Stewards program, is helping to organize the project.
The team is now working to get signage made to identify various plant species and encourage residents to plant native pollinator plants in their own home gardens, she said.
The garden plot, which sits in an open field with very little vegetation, will be surrounded by a dune fence to keep out certain animals and “so no one drives a vehicle through it,” she said.
Science teachers at the VECC will be using the garden as a teaching tool during the school year to educate students about the life cycles of beneficial Monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
The Xerces Northeast Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kit planting program for the Northeast Region includes information about how to properly plant and maintain the pollinator plants, which are being provided to the city at no cost.
Rutala said pallets of 2-inch plug plants will be delivered on Friday, and the planting will be done a few days later.
Plants include the appropriate species of milkweed for the South Jersey area. Milkweed is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly. The kits also include flowering plant species such as false indigo, coreopsis, aster, sunflowers, bergamot, black-eyed Susan and more.
The Xerces Society is a non-profit organization focused on protecting the natural world through conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. It takes its name from the Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly to go extinct in North America due to human activity.
The plants will be supplied by Pinelands Nursery & Supply in Columbus.
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