Did you know that pollinator gardens have the power to improve the resilience of urban environments? Park Pride and the Atlanta Botanical Garden have tapped into that power through the “Pollinators in Parks” initiative. With the support of The Home Depot Foundation‘s Building Community Network Grant, this partnership’s goal is to improve Atlanta’s long-term biodiversity, ecological health and sustainability through the stewardship of pollinator gardens in city parks.
“Pollinator gardens are like small pockets of ‘home-cooking’ for native pollinators,” explained Teri Nye, Park Pride’s Park Visioning Coordinator and resident botanist. “Other animals benefit as well, using gardens as food sources, nesting and overwintering sites, and as host plants for their young. All these things are important to a healthy ecosystem, especially an urban one.”
In April, Park Pride and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, side-by-side with community volunteers, built five pollinator gardens with over 350 pollinator plants. Pilot garden sites include: Blue Heron Nature Preserve (Buckhead), Four Corners Park (South Atlanta), Gilliam Park (East Atlanta), Grove Park (West Atlanta) and Welch Street Park (Southwest Atlanta).
Pollinator gardens are not just great for the bees, butterflies, birds and other insect pollinators that they support; they also provide multiple benefits to the community. The insects attracted to the gardens support nearby vegetable gardens, leading to healthier, more productive harvests. Not only do pollinator gardens nurture our bellies, “they also nurture our connection to nature,” points out Melina Lozano Durán, Pollinator Garden Coordinator with the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Additionally, the maintenance of these new gardens includes a workforce development component that builds lifelong job skills. Urban Greenscapes, a landscape company formed by a cohort from the Greening Youth Foundation (with training provided by The Conservation Fund and the Atlanta Botanical Garden), has been hired to maintain the pollinator gardens over the first growing year.
“We’re proud to bring these groups together for this project,” said Catherine Stodola, who oversees Atlanta giving for The Home Depot Foundation. “We believe strongly in the collaborative atmosphere of Atlanta’s nonprofit community, and The Home Depot Foundation is committed to investing in outdoor spaces in our hometown.”