This past summer, the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & the Common Good collaborated with a new environmental effort: the Wild Pollinator Partners (WPP) network. This new initiative in Eastern Ontario was created to share information, resources and experience on native pollinators and it also has the goal to help liaise between local groups such as teachers, researchers, NGO’s and local residents. WPP saw a need to support and promote the important pollination benefits that native bees and other native species of insects provide to the local ecology. They realized that many people were not aware that wild bees, which are mostly solitary bees, are key to local pollination in both cities and the countryside. The belief that we are dependent solely on European Honeybees (an introduced species) to do all pollination is false. However Honeybees compete for the same nectar and pollen as our native species so it is crucial to provide native wildflower habitat to ensure the health of local populations of pollinators.
“Wild pollinators tend to be little-known, underappreciated and often misunderstood.”
- Wild Pollinator Partners network
The FCG Ottawa Chapter and Wild Pollinator Partner realized that there was a match in terms of our two programs: WPP was donating local native plants to residents and organizations that were interested in planting them and the FCG local chapter was promoting their 2018-2019 Interfaith Sustainable Garden Network where they were meeting with local faith communities to help advise on how to create an ecological and sustainable oasis with their current gardens. Being able to provide some FREE organic native plants to encourage faith communities to start immediately on their outdoor Care for Creation efforts was an unforeseen blessing.
The WPP network was enthusiastic about the opportunity to encourage faith communities to support native pollinators in their local gardens. The initiative had been started by two volunteers at Fletcher Wildlife Gardens where they had a native plant nursery and were eager to see these blooms in gardens all over Ottawa.
So over the first summer of the partnership, five faith communities received native plants from Wild Pollinator Partners including two Catholic churches, two Anglican congregations and one United church. Two were starting new gardens with funding support from FCG’s Outdoor Greening Program and the other three added native plants to current gardens. By the end of the summer, new Coneflowers, Asters, Wild Yarrow, Goldenrods, Columbines, Black-Eyed Susans, Wild Bergamot and other native plants were blooming in both urban and suburban locations in the city, tended by keen gardening volunteers. Faith & the Common Good was also able to share some other tips on how to support pollinators such as allowing for some bare (un-mulched) patches of dirt for ground-dwelling bees and other insects such as butterflies that like to “puddle” in muddy spots. Faith communities could see that gardens animated by beautiful local pollinators had an added benefit to their congregations and neighbours alike as they started trading stories of their latest sightings of butterflies and bees.
Faith & the Common Good is looking forward to partnering with WPP again next summer. Discussions are ongoing with an opportunity to meet with other like-minded organizations in March at WPP’s first annual Colloquium.
Faith & the Common Good’s 2018-2019 Outdoor Greening Program in Ottawa is funded by TD Friends of the Environment, Ottawa Community Foundation and the City of Ottawa’s CEPGP program who have made possible the opportunity to visit 15 faith communities, support 2 new gardens and educate over 10 new communities on the benefits of a sustainable and ecological garden. Many thanks for the generous support to our program!