Township & City Fund Swath of Flowers (2024)

Township & City Fund Swath of Flowers (1)

July 5, 2024
By Toby Scofield

In an increasingly developed world, people sometimes just want to turn back and appreciate the beautiful aspects of nature, but they may find themselves unable to. Fortunately, this is something that can be addressed, as John Donley and Coyote Run have demonstrated.

With monetary donations from both the City of Pickerington and Violet Township ($824 and $1,016 respectively), these two landowners planted a 15-foot-wide strip of pollinator garden along where their properties abut Pickerington Road. A length of nearly a mile beginning just south of the future junior high and stretching south.

While difficult to ascertain the value of the donation, both landowners have lost the future income from farming the acreage.

The garden includes native plants and non-invasive, non-native plants, all of which native pollinators have been shown to enjoy. The prairie seed mix contained multiple grains and blossoms including milkweed, coneflower, clover and black-eyed Susans.

Of course, waiting for the seeds to sprout can take time, so the results may not be visible for another year or two. However, once the flowers bloom, the land will be bright with colors and buzzing with insects.

This project has benefits beyond its aesthetics. As one of the landowners, David Hague of Coyote Run, said, “Pollinators, in whatever form, have suffered losses in numbers due to habitat destruction. This particular project helps create pollinator habitat and also serves as an opportunity for the City of Pickerington, Violet Township, Fairfield County, and two local landowners to work together to restore natural habitat and beautify the roadside.”

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Pollinators come in many shapes and sizes, from flies to moths to even birds and bats, but they have all experienced habitat loss over the years as plants are cleared away to make room for buildings. Houses, schools, and skyscrapers all reside on land that was once free for these creatures to pollinate. This, in turn, causes many of the pollinators to die, leaving fewer of them to pollinate the plants in gardens and in the wild.

But why are we worried about pollinators? Why did the City of Pickerington and Violet Township each donate hundreds of dollars to help these landowners build a flower garden?

Pollinators are crucial for the environment and agriculture. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), they help in the reproduction of about 75-percent of flowering plants and nearly 35-percent of global food crops. Without them, many plants, including those that produce fruits, vegetables, and nuts, would fail to reproduce leading to a significant impact on food supply and biodiversity.

Pollinators have a very important job in any ecosystem; they carry pollen from one flower to another, and when the flowers are within the same species, this pollen transfer fertilizes the plant and causes it to produce seeds and fruits. These seeds and fruits can then be consumed for nutrients or grown into new plants, continuing the cycle.

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“But wait!” some may object. “If the pollinators die out, can’t you just get humans to do that job instead?”

It’s a good question, and some places in the world have already started practicing hand-pollination when natural pollination is insufficient or when people want to cross-pollinate in a specific way to create specific hybrids.

However, this process is not sustainable for a couple of reasons, both tied to the same aspect: money. Hand-pollination is labor-intensive and time-consuming, making it costly.

According to Science Daily, hand-pollination often requires low-paid workers, and in some cases, even children, to perform the task. Additionally, the scale at which hand-pollination would need to b done to replace natural pollinators is impractical and economically unfeasible.

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“What about artificial pollinators?”

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That can be boiled down to money again; artificial pollinators require people to design them and resources to build them. Many of them are robotic, meaning they also need someone to program them. As brilliant as artificial intelligence may seem, it has many flaws and a long way to go before it can reach the level of bees, butterflies, or birds. It is far from being capable of being a sole pollinator.

Suggesting that the artificial pollinators be remote-controlled brings us back to the hand-pollination issue of how much a human’s time is worth. After spending so much money on these tiny robotic flies, is there even enough money left to pay people to control them? Not to mention how many people would be needed, increasing costs yet again.

Artificial pollinators, such as drones and robotic bees, are being developed and tested, but they are currently expensive and not yet as efficient as natural pollinators. The cost of designing, building, and maintaining these devices, along with the need for skilled operators, makes them an impractical solution at this time.

“Huh. So, if pollinators are our only hope, how do we help them?”

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Pollinator gardens, like the one growing alongside Pickerington Road, are a good way to go. Specifically, native species will attract many of Pickerington’s native pollinators, but non-native species are alright as long as they are known to attract local pollinators and are not classified as invasive. Outside of their environmental benefits, they are also gorgeous to look at and provide great opportunities to see and photograph Pickerington’s bees, butterflies, and birds.

If gardening is not your thing, however, you can also do the exact opposite. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many creatures rely on dead leaves and bark to hide under during winter. If having the entire yard be a mess is too much, it is helpful even if you just leave one corner of your yard filled with leaves, rocks, and logs, as they can still take refuge under the lawn debris that you leave.

Pollinators have done so much for humanity over the years that we have lived beside each other. It’s about time we started doing something for them.

For more information about pollinator gardens, please check out these relevant editions of “Growing Hope”, the conservation-minded series by Pickerington Wild Ones founder Michelle Hill:

Growing Hope: Community Action – This article discusses the Licking County Pollinator Pathway which coordinates landowners (big and small) to plant beneficial flower gardens in proximity to one another so that birds and insects must not travel as far between gardens.

Growing Hope: Plant the plants that will do the most good! – In this piece, Hill discusses which plants provide the most benefit to our local ecosystem.

Township & City Fund Swath of Flowers (2024)

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