Biodiversity is an important measure of the health of our wildlife. The greater the variety of plants and animals, the healthier and more resilient the environment—and the better able it is to adjust to a changing climate.
So how do citizens of Maynard think about biodiversity, and what steps are they taking to foster it? What do people value about the wildlife in the gardens, woods, wetlands, and meadows in town? How and why do they cultivate biodiversity in their gardens? How do they protect and enhance biodiversity in the landscape? This blog attempts to answer these questions through conversation with a range of individuals with diverse viewpoints and approaches. We will look at efforts both small and large, from the cultivation of a single Bee Balm plant in a pot to town-wide initiatives.
First, a bit about me. I am interested in the biodiversity in my garden, and my efforts have been rewarded with a steadily increasing range of insects, plants, and amphibians. But I am neither an expert gardener nor a botanist, so I am curious to learn from others. I bring my interest, my questions, and a desire to understand how people think and respond to a changing world.
Small Space Gardening with Ariel Akerman
Over the course of a mere three years, Ariel Akerman and her husband, Domenik, turned a small conventional urban lawn into a vibrant pollinator garden, supporting a population of numerous insects (including three species of bumble bee). In addition, they produced honey, hops for beer, and vegetables for themselves and their neighbors. Ariel exemplifies the active movement within Maynard Community Gardeners towards providing habitat for pollinators.
While simultaneously working, packing to move to Germany, and looking after three-year-old Sylvester, Ariel made time to share with us her thinking about the development of her garden on McKinley Street.
Watch my interview with Ariel, who provides a tour of her garden.
Here are some of the sources that Ariel found most compelling:
The Bumble Bee Project, an initiative from the Metrowest Conservation Alliance's Native Pollinator Task Force (which includes member Lizza Smith).
Braiding Sweetgrass, a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers.
RJ Gegear and the Gegear Lab at UMass Dartmouth (local research on bumblebees and ecosystem support)
Entomologist and wildlife ecologist Doug Tallamy, who has many great videos on YouTube, including Nature’s Best Hope, Homegrown National Park Initiative, and Restoring the Little Things That Run the World)
The Native Plant Trust's Garden in the Woods in Framingham ,a source of native plants
Arbor Day Foundation, an inexpensive source of small trees
Square Foot Gardening Foundation, a resource on growing food in small spaces
We wish Ariel and her family the very best as they start new enterprises in their next garden.