In 2020, PPCS took ownership of a one-acre lot from Dairyland Power Cooperative in the Ellsworth Business Park. The lot was too small for uses like constructing a building, so PPCS staff sought other options. It turns out the lot was the perfect size to create a natural area to support habitat for pollinators and other insects and be available for the public to enjoy.
“Our project is a pollinator meadow,” said David Chavie, PPCS engineering technician. “It’s a bigger scale than a typical garden and it’s not going to be planted in rows; everything is going to be allowed to grow where it wants to grow.”
Creating the meadow has been a multi-step process and involved many PPCS employees. Chavie took charge of planning the meadow, and initial plans called for planting seeds in the spring of 2021. Mother Nature had other plans and provided a wet, cold spring, so planting was delayed until fall of 2021.
The field had been used as an agricultural field with alpha cut and baled a couple of times per year by a local farmer. Prior to the start of the project, the farmer did one last cut of the field. Then PPCS mowed lower than the farmer was cutting. There is also a hill on the lot that was difficult to clear, requiring hand work and use of a weed whip.
Next, weed killer was sprayed on the lot and after a few more weeks the lot was tilled. After the tilling a sign was installed and another application of weed killer was applied. The weeds will be sprayed one more time and at the end of the growing season all weed seeds will be exhausted.
“Broadcasting the pollinator meadow seeds will be tricky,” said Chavie. “We don’t want to spread them too early because we don’t want them to sprout. We want them to go dormant under the snow and naturally sprout next spring.”
Pollinators are essential to the food chain in our community. They bring us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems by helping plants reproduce.
Pollinators are responsible for bringing us:
countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
½ of the world’s oils, fibers, and raw materials,
preventing soil erosion,
and increasing carbon sequestration.
“This project fits with our overall goals to be environmentally responsible,” said Chavie. “It will help protect all pollinators, but especially the Monarch butterfly that could eventually be named an endangered species.”
We’ll be watching and waiting this coming spring to see how the plants take off in the pollinator meadow. We hope everyone in the community will be watching with us.
Contributing Source: Pollinator.org