Today, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), launched the “Growing Wild Massachusetts” campaign with a kickoff event at Weston Nursery in the Town of Hopkinton. This new initiative aims to promote and preserve pollinators throughout the Commonwealth, and will offer the public free Growing Wild starter kits and other educational resources to create pollinator-friendly native plant habitat and boost pollinator populations.
“Pollinators play a critical role in ensuring healthy ecosystems and a thriving agricultural industry in Massachusetts, and the Baker-Polito Administration is dedicated to protecting these important species,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Through this new initiative, we encourage Massachusetts residents to plant pollinator-friendly habitat and help boost pollinator populations from their own yards.”
“Pollinators are essential for the survival of many plant and wildlife species that are native to Massachusetts,” said DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “The Growing Wild program is yet another example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to the further enhancement of our green spaces.”
As part of Growing Wild Massachusetts, DCR and MDAR is partnering with nurseries like Weston Nursery throughout the state to distribute pollinator habitat starter kits featuring live plants and a packet of seeds native to Massachusetts. The kit also contains a trowel, a Growing Wild sign, information about plants and pollinators, and a journal to track seasonal plant growth and pollinator activity. DCR will provide educational resources on its website and social media channels, and encourage Growing Wild enthusiasts to share their pollinator progress on social media using the hashtag #GrowingWildMA. The starter kits are expected to be available at participating local nurseries beginning on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
“Our native plants and pollinators depend on our support so that we can do our part as environmental stewards,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We encourage Massachusetts residents to get involved by being active in this movement to ensure sustainability in not only pollinator populations, but throughout the local food system and the natural world around us. We hope these Growing Wild Massachusetts starter kits will inspire people to “Bee the Change!” and start creating more pollinator habitats statewide that will bring lasting benefits to us now, and to future generations.”
Pollinators include bees, birds, bats, butterflies and other species. Over 45 percent of agricultural commodities in Massachusetts rely on pollinator species for crop pollination and food production. Pollinator species provide significant environmental benefits that are necessary for maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems, and produce valuable products including honey, propolis, royal jelly and wax.
However, many pollinator species are struggling due to loss of forage and habitat, the spread of invasive plant and insect species, climate change, and improper use of pesticides. In an effort to promote and protect pollinator habitat with DCR land, the agency continues to plant pollinator gardens, manage wildflower meadows, and maintain limited-mow zones. While DCR properties provide habitat for a variety of native species, public lands alone cannot support the needs of native pollinators. DCR and MDAR are encouraging residents to support the Growing Wild Massachusetts initiative by planting pollinator-friendly native plant habitat in their yards, patios, or window boxes.
To view a full list of participating nurseries and learn more about the Growing Wild Massachusetts movement, visit the DCR website.
“According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, more than 75% of the world’s flowering plants and 35% of those we eat rely on pollinators to reproduce, making pollinators vital to human life,” said DCR Deputy Commissioner for Conservation and Resource Stewardship Priscilla Geigis. “The goal of Growing Wild Massachusetts is to galvanize the public by educating residents about the critical roles that native plants and pollinators play in our lives and inspire people to create habitat that supports and preserves these important parts of our ecosystem.”
“Bees and pollinators are essential to food production, wildlife sustainability, and native habitats here in Massachusetts,” said Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “With this new program, our local nurseries will help us all play a role in protecting pollinators right in our own backyards. I’m so pleased that our state agencies have taken a leading role in this important partnership.”
“We are very proud to be a part of this program alongside DCR, MDAR, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and other well-respected garden centers,” said Peter Mezitt, owner and president of Weston Nurseries and president of the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association. “Pollinators and native species are so very important to our environment and we are committed to doing everything we can to help people learn about and successfully grow them.”
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), oversees more than 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Jim Montgomery, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources for the well-being of all. For more information, visit DCR’s website at www.mass.gov/dcr.
MDAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr.