by Rebecca Davis, Urban Agriculture Specialist
This 2022 growing season was full of native plantings and pollinator focused programs. Green Thumbs created 2 new pollinator gardens, staff studied how to be a Pollinator Steward, and we participated in a pollinator study on our green roof.
The new pollinator gardens we created are at Sprucecourt PS and in a whole new garden area at Rose Avenue PS. Sprucecourt focused mostly on native plants and flowers in a highly visible garden patch just outside our main garden area. We have high hopes and excitement for what will grow back in the spring and who will be buzzing around. Some native flowering plants to anticipate in this garden next year are Hairy Beardstongue (Penstemen hirsutus) and Blazing Star (Liatris spicata).
At Rose Ave. PS, we partnered with Midtown Ravines Group, a citizens’ group working alongside the City of Toronto, who had contacted teacher Alorani Hahn at the school, with a desire to support a pollinator project. With MRG’s support, we installed a watering system and filled 3 large, raised beds with pollinator powerhouses, planted by three grade 3 classes. They named the garden Pollinator Town and created signs for each type of flower.
Many of the native plants were sourced via PollinateTO, which also ran a Pollinator Stewardship program in which participants could learn more about native pollinators and how to protect them, especially in urban areas. Green Thumbs staff participated in this program and used their new expertise when setting up and creating these spaces. You can find more information on the stewardship program here. The native plants were planted throughout all our school gardens as well as on our green roof.
Speaking of the green roof, Green Thumbs conducted a pollinator survey in which we studied pollinator species for 8 weeks on the roof of Daniels Spectrum. Our goal was to determine how often native pollinator species were visiting our Green Roof Garden, and if the addition of a honeybee hive would be beneficial to the garden. (We also like honey!)
However, we determined that the visiting native bee numbers were far greater than visiting honeybees, therefore the garden was an important location for native pollinators. We had no trouble with our rooftop plants producing fruits either, so we decided that adding a honeybee hive would only put strain on native bee populations in our area. Check out this blog post by Avalon who led the survey!