At the Wellesley Community Gardens, nestled in the southern end of the village, Steve Kingsbury tends to his plot. In neatly planted rows little sprouts poke out of the furrows in the soil, hot peppers mostly, like Butch T Scorpions, Carolina Reapers, a few kinds of habaneros, as well as tomatoes, carrots, onions and beans. The peppe
rs can be ground up to make for an exceedingly hot powder, notes Kingsbury, who volunteers as the community garden coordinator, and what he doesn’t eat himself he sells.
At the ordinarily serene spot for residents to cultivate their own produce, Kingsbury and the other members of the Wellesley Community Garden are pitching in to support a new project – one that the whole township will get to share.
“We came up with the idea of putting in a pollinator garden,” explains Marty Schwende, a member of the community garden and Wellesley Horticultural Society, who along with fellow member
and master gardener Karen Sciuk came up with the idea. “And basically it provides a nice hab
itat for pollinators, but also provides beauty within that area, and part of the reason we wanted to do that is.”
Schwende and Sciuk came up with the idea, but the whole community garden is working together to keep the pollinator garden running.
“As a group member, you each pick two weeks throughout the summer and your job for that two weeks is to look after this garden,” explained Kingsbury.
The pollinator garden is part of a recent drive in the township to create a more pollinator friendly community. Schwende’s hope is that more pollinator gardens will be planted around the township, creating a veritable oasis for the vital pollen-spreading insects, who’s numbers have been sharp
ly declining in around the world.
“We’re starting with Wellesley (village), and then we’re going to want to branch out to, and hopefully we can get the bug going – or the buzz going – into some of the small towns like Hawkesville or St. Clements and so forth,” said Schwende.
The garden is still in its infancy and the pollinators have yet to bloom, but by spring of next year the location is sure to be an attraction, and not just for the bees. Schwende envisions the garden serving as an educational tool as well for the local schools, to help raise awareness of the importance of pollinator
“What we’re thinking about is just bringing a classroom down and basically educating the kids … showing the kids what the plants do, what they provide for these pollinators,” he says. “Just give them an understanding of what to plant, how to plant, where to plant, and just giving some education they can pass on – not only for themselves for knowledge, but maybe to the parents.
“So hopefully by next year when they start blooming these kids can come down and get kind of excited,” especially once the gardens begin to attract pollinators, he adds.
Through the pollinator gardens and the educational programs, Schwende is hoping for Wellesley Township to become recognized as an official “Bee City” of Canada, a designation that would highlight the township’s commitment to its local pollinators. The township started the application for Bee City status last month.
“This a movement that’s been growing. I think people have learned about the decline of honey bees and perhaps have some kind of inkling that maybe there’s other pollinators out there,” notes Shelly Candel, who founded the Canadian chapter of Bee City in 2016. “I think human beings have an affinity for honey bees. Learning that they’re dying, I think people are waking up.”