WildFlower Power: Reviving the Art of Pollinator Habitats
We should not mind so small a flower,
Except it quiet bring
Our little garden that we lost
Back to the lawn again.
So spicy her Carnations red,
So drunken reel her Bees,
So silver steal a hundred Flutes
From out a hundred trees,
That whoso sees this little flower,
By faith may clear behold
The Bobolinks around the throne,
And Dandelions gold.
~ Emily Dickinson
The Magic of Wildflowers
Wildflowers are mysterious, beautiful and abundant. They remind us of the essence of beauty of our planet, bring us back to our childhood – a remembrance of simplicity, joy and pure love.
But what makes them unique, and relevant to our times today?
As discovered in bustling, concrete-filled neighborhoods of Manhattan, wildflowers are not only essential for bringing back beauty and magic to a neighborhood, but also for healing the earth, inviting bees and butterflies and creating community.
They are also renowned for their medicinal properties – and for many spiritual seekers, flowers hold the keys to connecting with the divine.
The Ecological Benefits of Wildflowers
Wildflowers are essential because:
- They heal the soil. Wildflowers can grow almost anywhere where there is sunlight. They don’t need to be watered or tended to,
except for weeding. Many have deep roots (sometimes going as long as 12 feet!), so they break up the soil, aerate the land, and bring back nutrients such as Nitrogen from the air. They restore the soil ecology
- They shift the local ecology. The soil becomes loosened and allows water to seep in, thereby increasing the local aquifer. Birds and other animals are attracted, and the soil becomes fertile enough to be able to grow fruits and vegetables – thereby creating fresh possibilities for edible gardens.
- They create a haven for pollinators (bees, butterflies and other birds/insects that are critical for pollination). Given that the world’s naturally occurring bees have decreased by over 40%, this puts a huge strain on the global food supplies. The reduction of pollinators is going to contribute to the food and water crisis, if we don’t act quickly.
Wildflower Power Project
Wildflower Power was created at the Mandela Community Garden in Harlem, as a project under the Self Expression and Leadership Program with Landmark Education.
The Mandela Garden was created in 2015, when a reclaimed parking lot was restored into a garden, by removing the pavement, weeding, cleaning debris and changing the topography.
The goals of Wildflower Power are:
- To create awareness of the importance of wildflowers and pollinator habitats (places where bees and butterflies and grow, and pollinate)
- To collect seeds of native pollinator plants, and distribute them
- The shift the ecology of local community gardens by introducing wildflowers
- To create a movement of Wildflower Power activists, looking to introduce pollinator habitats in their homes and gardens
Since the project was commenced, several activities have been underway:
- 30 community volunteers (including children) to help in seed collection and sorting, weeding and breaking up of pavement.
- Bottling of seeds
- We started filming a short feature film about the Mandela Garden and importance of wildflowers
- Engaging with local communities and schools to educate about Wildflowers and getting involved in the Garden
- Sharing seeds with local Harlem gardens
- Planting seeds in winter for next year