The 11th Annual Gathering of Organic Land Care Pros was a huge success on December 9th!
AOLCPs and other land care professionals from nine states came together to review the current state of pollinators, such as monarch butterflies and numerous species of bees, and to discuss how landscapers can influence their clients to provide diverse plantings and habitat which support the growth and development of critical species of pollinators.
|Diane St. John - Monarch butterfly enthusiast|
We started the day with Diane St. John, Retail Manager from Natureworks Organic Garden Center located in Northford, CT. Diane spoke about their incredible annual project which raised over 700 monarch butterflies last season, and how they do so to increase the monarch population and to educate the public -both of which they have achieved. Diane explained that the rearing of butterflies is a laborious task and described to the audience how sensitive these creatures are to any pesticides or even simple household cleaners which can cause their deaths upon contact. Diane gave us a nice list of recommendations for creating monarch habitat:
- Plant Asclepias species to attract monarchs to lay eggs
- Plant nectar plants (lots of flowers!)
- Avoid using any pesticides
- Limit mowing in an area of your yard
- Share the experience with friends, neighbors and clients
- Contribute to and support conservation efforts
|Karen Bussolini with her publications|
Catherine Zimmerman from The Meadow Project and Matrix Media was our keynote speaker, spreading the word about "Creating Habitat Heroes Across the Nation." Catherine showed clips from her recent film, Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home, which she co-created with Dr. Doug Tallemy. She shared her experience of filming individuals and organizations across the United
|Catherine Zimmerman shooting film|
|Dr. Kim Stoner talks about bees|
After lunch, Jeff Cordulack, Executive Director of CT NOFA, welcomed Dr. Kim Stoner to the stage by thanking her for her research and activism which contributed towards "An Act Concerning Pollinator Health" being voted in unanimously by Connecticut legislature in 2016. This act is largely unfunded by does request that Dr. Stoner provide recommendations on creating and protecting pollinator habitat in Connecticut. Kim then gave her presentation "What do Bees Need?" to the audience and shared her research about the requirements of many types of bees to survive. Honey bees are not native to the U.S.and they do have significant winter die-off. However, they are so crucial to agricultural production, bee keepers can afford to reproduce the bee colonies each year to keep up with demand, although the populations have been decreasing for decades. To improve conditions for honey bee survival, we must address Varroa mite management, protect them from pesticide exposure, and ensure they have ample supplies of nectar and water. Bumble bee species have different needs as they nest in the ground and need early and late sources of pollen and nectar for sustenance.
|John Campanelli, UCONN|
The second major point regarding plant selection, was the need for an extensive list of second choices if the plants could not be sourced within 1 hour of Philadelphia. Julie and Linda were surprised when 18 out of 44 plants needed to be substituted from their lists.
The whole day was wonderful! Old friends were able to reconnect and many exciting topics were discussed. We had an assortment of exhibitors and vendors, which is always a nice way to learn about new plants, products and trends within the organic land care industry. We created a list of OLC Products and Services based upon all of our sponsors and exhibitors from the 11th Annual Gathering. Please save and refer others to this important resource.
Here are some more photos from the event:
|Barry Draycott talks with an attendee|
|Gregg and Peter from Compostwerks!|
|Dan Furman from Cricket Hill Garden|
|Fred Newcombe from PJC Organic|