The path of pollinators continues to expand
A new protected area is being developed near Lock 12 on North Brooksvale Road. Located next to the lock car park, a Cheshire Pollinator Trail is being developed and passers-by may notice heavy equipment working on the site.
Crews from Winthrop Construction were on site on June 7, along with landscaper Kathy Connolly and volunteers from Cheshire Pollinator Pathway to oversee the start of work.
“The crew did an excellent job. We are very happy to move the project forward,” said Joanna deBear, Cheshire Pollinator Pathway Assistant Manager.
The project started after funds were raised through Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund.
“We met and exceeded our goal,” said Pam Roach, who started fundraising as director of grants for the 501(c)(3) Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire.
“In order to do a project of this magnitude, we had to raise a lot of money,” Roach said.
Volunteers helped raise awareness of the fundraiser. Nancy Fede from Cheshire was a key fundraising volunteer. “I was thrilled and relieved that we met and exceeded the fundraising goal for the Sustainable CT Matching Grant,” Fede said.
“We couldn’t have done this without the tireless efforts of our dedicated volunteers,” said Roach.
Fundraising efforts raised just over $8,000. Sustainable CT then matched donations dollar-for-dollar, Roach said. The project brought in around $16,000. Work on the site began almost immediately.
“Long before the fundraiser, we had already presented in front of Inland Wetlands, worked with city officials, two different soil scientists and principles from the Southwest Conservation District. So, we were ready,” deBear said, adding, “We realize this is a long-term project.
Much like the original garden across the street on North Brooksvale, work on this new area will take around a year to get ready. The band uses a technique called choking, also known as lasagna layering, using cardboard and wood shavings.
No pesticides are used. The area contains large amounts of porcelain berry, sagebrush, multiflora rosa and other invasive species. Invasive plants are harmful to local ecosystems because they break off earlier and spread quickly to overwhelm native plants. Native plants, with their longer and denser root systems, are best at controlling erosion, especially along waterways. Some invasive plants can alter the chemical composition of the soil. Some have allelopathic properties, making it difficult for other plants to establish or exist near them.
The Cheshire Pollinator Pathway is part of the larger statewide Pollinator-Pathway.org. The umbrella group began as a response to the critical global insect apocalypse. Pollinator numbers have been decimated due to habitat fragmentation, pesticide use and lack of native plants.
Pollinators at risk include moths, bumblebees, solitary bees, moths, fireflies, dragonflies and others. The food web is also at risk. Without native “straight species” plants, there aren’t enough insects that bats need in their diet, and there aren’t enough caterpillars to feed the baby birds, whose only diet food comes from soft caterpillars.
The Pollinator Trail began in 2016, with Donna Merrill, as a way to create native planting relays. Pollinator Pathway principles Louise Washer and Mary Ellen LeMay helped bring the grassroots movement to its current status. Pollinator Ways can be found in nearly every town in Connecticut, and the movement has spread to New York, Vermont and Massachusetts.
In Cheshire, the game plan for planting the Lock 12 garden will be different from that of the original garden across the street, which is mainly flower-filled. The Lock 12 site will rely heavily on shrubs and trees, including oak, a keystone species for hundreds of pollinators, as well as shrubs that are strong pollinators including elderberry, serviceberry and sweet fern .
The Cheshire Pollinator Pathway welcomes volunteers and has weekly working hours in the garden most Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
To find out how you can support the grassroots group, go to Sustainablecheshire.org or follow the Cheshire Pollinator Pathway on social media.