VENTNOR – Approximately two dozen volunteers made quick work of planting 600 plants Tuesday afternoon on a plot of land behind the Ventnor Educational Community Complex. The volunteers came in all shapes and sizes and included young an old all working to improve the environment.
The project was made possible through the work of the city’s green team with plants donated by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, so named for the first butterfly to become extinct.
Volunteers were ankle deep in soil and mulch to find a home for their particular species of pollinator. The volunteers were given bunches of plug-sized plants and directed to an area marked with a corresponding color flag and asked to plant their species a foot or so apart according to a pre-determined design plant.
Various facets of the community had their role to play in the pollinator project.
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 city made it possible for the plot to be watered using a hose bib connected to a nearby pump house. About an inch of water per week will be needed to feed the thirsty plants through the growing season and until their root systems mature enough for nature to take over.
Resident Lee Widman, who is a member of Rutgers University Environmental Stewards program, helped to organize the project and directed volunteers to their planting areas, telling each to be careful not to trip over the green string that marked out a zig-zagging walking path. The area has been surrounded with orange fencing to keep lawn mower and other vehicles from accidentally trampling the baby plants.
Birkbeck said the green team is working on getting small signs to identify various plant species. The pollinator garden and the lifecycle of butterflies will be watched by students at the VECC, a teacher said.
The pollinator garden is meant to be beautiful to look at, beneficial to the lifecycle of butterflies and an educational tool for residents to learn about the benefits of planting native plants.
“We also want to encourage residents to plant native pollinator plants in their own home gardens,” Birkbeck said.
The garden is open for viewing along the 700-block of Lafayette Avenue.