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Ohio native pollinator gardens promote community learning

How beautiful are the blooming flowers of spring? What’s better than the sweet taste of strawberries on a hot summer day? These simple pleasures are some of the finest things life has to offer, and whether you’re 2 years old or 92 years old, they can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

We owe quite a bit to our native pollinators. Without creatures such as bats, bees, and butterflies, we’d be left without some of our favorite crops and flowering plants that many of us take for granted.
Ohio State University (OSU) Agricultural Extension – Sandusky County and its Master Gardner Volunteer Program know the importance of pollinators; especially in Northern Ohio, where for many, agriculture is a way of life. That’s why they’re teaming up with NEXUS Gas Transmission (NEXUS) to create native pollinator gardens.

The gardens will serve as a learning center for residents and visitors of Sandusky County who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. The Extension and Master Gardner Volunteers will provide lessons on local pollinators, bringing together the community to the benefit of the area’s ecosystems.

“OSU Extension and the Master Gardeners are excited about the opportunity provided through the use of the ground from the county commissioners and funding from Nexus,” said Allen Gahler, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator in Sandusky County. “We hope to make this a long-term, sustainable garden to be enjoyed by the community and utilized as a teaching garden with live demonstrations and classes offered by Master Gardeners after establishment.”

The gardens are expected to be completed by early 2019 and will include native plants, herbs, berries and other edibles to attract native pollinators. Tilled plots and raised garden beds, including two designed to be accessible for the differently-abled, will be available for adoption by local residents or youth groups.

The Clyde Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter has pledged volunteer labor and assistance to maintain the gardens. Through the FFA’s bee keeping program, the pollinator portion of the garden could come full circle if a hive is successfully transported to the site.

Additional features include a compost area, a demonstration pollinator meadow, a water feature, and a hedgerow of pollinator-friendly and berry-producing shrubs donated by a local nursery. Future plans for the gardens include the installation of a parking area, additional plantings, and walkways to make this space even more accessible to the local community.

NEXUS implemented this project as a part of the NEXUS Environmental Stewardship Program. NEXUS recognizes that operating in communities is a privilege and manages its business in a way that promotes social, environmental and economic benefits for stakeholders.

“We are proud to partner in this project which the OSU Extension, Wildlife Habitat Council and the Master Gardeners to create a unique community feature to restore native pollinator habitat and extend educational opportunities to the community,” said Adam Parker with NEXUS Gas Transmission. “It’s our responsibility as environmental stewards to pass down our knowledge and passion to future generations.”

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