Asheville’s green spaces are certainly a beautiful part of the city’s landscape, but they can serve an even greater purpose — much-needed habitats for the local pollinator population. Thanks to a partnership between Asheville GreenWorks + the City of Asheville, residents will soon be supported in establishing and certifying gardens on city land as pollinator habitats.
Phyllis Stiles, GreenWorks board member and founder of the national Bee City USA program says that the vision has always been to “shift notions of landscaping from neat and tidy to practices that support biodiversity” and is grateful that the City of Asheville is “willing to work with residents to create pollinator habitats on city-owned land that is not intensely managed by the City. Every little bit of habitat matters when you’re talking about insects.”
How it works
Even if you don’t own your own land or have your own garden, you can step up to contribute to spaces that help pollinators thrive. Partner with your kids’ school, the community garden or park up the street, or local library to complete this application to get a Native Pollinator Garden Certification. Residents or groups can submit the online application noting that the garden is on city land.
This public habitat program is a new collaboration and seeks to support establishing new pollinator habitat on City-owned property. The program is an expansion of a thriving effort to support residents in certifying their own home and business property gardens.
What it means
GreenWorks has been involved in large-scale pollinator habitat projects that take years of work and dozens of volunteers — like the RAD HAB and the pollinator meadow on Wilma Dykeman Greenway — but certification and impact don’t require this scale. There are several required elements, but there are tiers of certification so that anyone can get involved, even if the public space is only a container garden in your community.
Why it’s important
“Insects are the little things that run the world,” says Phyllis, “but 40% of the world’s insect pollinators are at risk of extinction. Since about 90% of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce, they’re kind of a big deal.”