“We’re building a highway,” says Angel Hjarding, creator of the NC Wildlife Federation statewide Butterfly Highway program. Angel had an idea…to provide native plants in garden plots for underserved neighborhoods. The results would provide both beauty to the underserved neighborhoods and benefit to all manner of butterflies and other pollinators. From this initial project of 50 gardens the idea spread statewide to over 1600 by the end of 2016, in just 1 year. The Butterfly Highway project is a pledge to protect and conserve native plants for pollinators and to not use pesticides that will harm pollinators. It is not a certification, making it much more accessible to all types of gardens–from patio or deck size to farms 100 acres+.
Dr. Larry Mellichamp, President of the NC Native Plant Society has often challenged members to get involved locally, plant local gardens, talk to our neighbors and children and introduce new friends to the pleasures of native plant gardening and the benefits native plants provide. At the January 2017 Southern Piedmont Chapter meeting Angel told stories of neighbors talking with neighbors about the butterflies and bees they observed visiting their Asters and Butterfly Weed and Blackeyed Susans in their new gardens.
In our November 2016 meeting, Carrie DeJaco shared research noting the positive impact interactions with the natural world have on all communities…both underserved and well to do. Clearly native plant enthusiasts and our environmental friends and supporters already reap the benefits of our time outside among plant and animal friends. Hopefully we, the Southern Piedmont Chapter, can harness Angel’s enthusiasm in participating in more local projects in 2017. Please support our efforts with your time and talent at these upcoming events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
- MCSWCD Tree seedling distribution, 9-12 Noon, Feb. 25
- Reedy Creek NC Arbor Day celebration , March 18, 2-5:30 PM
- Earth Day, numerous community events and festivals, April 22 and 29
One more thing, if you’d like to identify the fluttering visitors to your own backyard gardens, Angel recommends this book, Â Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America by Jeffrey Glassberg. And another thing…we do acknowledge that even one great idea takes a lot of work to make it happen. We applaud Angel’s success and hope you will see her hard work as an incentive to all of us. For more information on how to create a Butterfly Highway stopping post in your backyard visit ncwf.org.