Scout Plans Pollinator Garden At Cherry Grove, Animal Shelter Garden Underway
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.” —English nursery rhyme
Emerging with spring’s flowers are a series of pollinator gardens — beds planted with native species attractive to birds, butterflies, and more. Whether created by a Scout, students, or volunteers, several gardens now in progress are taking place in part due to a Protect Our Pollinators (POP) Pollinator Pathway initiative. The concept for pathways is to create and connect, where possible, areas of land where native plants grow and pesticides are not in use.
Several gardens now in progress include a plot on a Newtown Forest Association (NFA) property at the former Cherry Grove Farm and another garden at Newtown’s Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center.
POP member Holly Kocet, who took part in a pathways initiative kick-off in April said, “I just want to say how happy Protect Our Pollinators is to be working with NFA (one of the Newtown Pollinator Pathway supporters) and [Ryan Stutman] and his Scout project on the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse planting.”
POP members are acting as consultants for the Newtown High School and Reed Intermediate School environmental clubs as well as for a garden being installed at Newtown Animal Control Shelter.
Cherry Grove Preserve
Describing Ryan Stutman as “an Eagle Scout who needed a project,” NFA President Bob Eckenrode said Ryan “came to us,” to create a project.
The Scout and volunteers on April 27 started what will become a pollinator garden in the foundation of an old school house on Palestine Road. The one-room structure was relocated to private property when NFA purchased and preserved nearly 30 acres of what was formerly Cherry Grove Farm. A pollinator garden provides native plants that attract and nourish pollinating insects and birds.
NFA is interested in becoming part of a recent effort to create a pollinator pathway through Newtown. Mr Eckenrode attended a community conversation in April about promoting the pathways — a series of public and private land that is pollinator-friendly and pesticide-free in Newtown.
“This is a good example and part of our NFA efforts to share our projects and good management practices while engaging other groups in our community to be a part of it,” Mr Eckenrode said. “This theme happens to be the importance of planting native plants and specifically ones as pollinator-friendly for bees, butterflies, and all the other insects that need these plants in our neighborhood gardens and large areas of open space.”
Regarding his project, which started with clearing and cultivating inside the stone foundation, Ryan said, “I was looking for an Eagle project to do and noticed that the NFA had recently acquired Cherry Grove Farm, a local farm near our house with a vegetable stand that we used to visit frequently.”
Last year, local developer Greg Carnrick had purchased the farm, and gave the NFA the opportunity to purchase a portion, rather than subdivide it. NFA was able to raise enough funds to buy the land and save nearly 30 acres as Cherry Grove Preserve, now offering open trails, streams, and meadows to the public.
"i decided it would be a good idea to help the NFA,” said Ryan, who opted for that project over others he had previously considered. He offered his help with projects at Cherry Grove. “They came back to me and said that would be a great idea because they want to spread this message of rural land preservation to all residents, but especially the youth.”
Possible projects included benches and an information kiosk, and “they mentioned that they were going to be doing a garden in the foundation of an old schoolhouse. That seemed very interesting to me, so I asked them if I could do that project,” Ryan said.
He learned that NFA was considering using professionals for the garden. “But then after seeing my enthusiasm, [the NFA] agreed for me to go forward with it.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to not only help this wonderful organization but also to be creating Newtown’s first step in a pollinator pathway across Fairfield and Westchester Counties. This project, of course, is not only about me and my personal gain [obtaining the rank of Eagle], it is mainly about helping out the insects and wildlife which are in great need,” Ryan Said.
He will use native plants “to encourage native wildlife to stay in their natural habitat.”
The Eagle Scout rank and project “as a whole is meant to build leadership in those who pursue it. I think this will be a great opportunity.”
With the bed prepped, planting should take place in early May, Mr Eckenrode commented.
Ms Kocet said the garden is 384 square feet.
“As with all gardens associated with the Pollinator Pathway, this garden will include native plants for three-season color," she said. "Plants are selected to provide nectar and pollen for a variety of pollinator species, from butterflies to bumblebees, and will offer a very nice entrance into Cherry Grove open space.”
Animal Shelter Garden Plans
Another garden will soon grow at the animal shelter at 21 Old Farm Road.
As a member of the Pollinator Pathway Steering Committee and Chair of the Animal Control Advisory Board, Adria Henderson “was in an ideal position to ‘plant the seeds’ for a Pollinator Garden” at the shelter.
The facility’s location “attracts not only Newtown residents, but also many residents from neighboring communities and local school groups — a perfect setting to introduce the immediate need for protection of our Connecticut pollinators,” she said.
Ms Henderson said, “We are fortunate in Newtown to have [an Animal Control Officer], Carolee Mason, who is so invested in the community and in all things nature-related that she immediately agreed that the garden in front of the shelter become part of the Newtown Pollinator Pathway.”
In the next few weeks, Ms Henderson will be working with Ms Mason and Protect Our Pollinators, “to choose the most appropriate plants to attract a variety of pollinators for the Shelter Pollinator Garden.”
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