PPRV From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Garden Program: Restoring Community and Ecology, Part 1
by Erin Keller, PPRV Pollinteer
Pollinator Project Rogue Valley’s From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Garden (FFFPG) program helps restore the community and ecology in many ways! It fulfills the need for beautiful gardens for neighbors impacted by fire, gives community members a way to support those who lost their homes and gardens, educates about the importance of native plants and pollinators, provides learning opportunities for students, contributes to the connectivity of native habitats, provides critical food and habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife, and adds to the amazing PPRV Buzzway program. Whew! That’s a lot of restoration from just one program!
Excerpt from the From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Garden webpage
As a result of the Almeda and Obenchain fires of 2020, a large number of community members lost their homes as well as their gardens. As they rebuild, many are not in a position to create new gardens, and may not be aware of the need for, and benefits of, pollinator gardens. That’s when Kristina Lefever, President of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley (PPRV) envisioned the FFFPG program.
In this vision, recipients would help create their new, native-plant pollinator gardens, for little to no cost!
Even more amazing, the gardens would be designed and installed by talented landscape designers.
Community members and schools would be involved and receive hands-on learning, while helping people and habitat recover after the fires.
Dr. Chhaya Werner's SOU EcoAdventure class helping design the Anglin's garden
Importantly, this program would support the 'Rogue Buzzway', increasing and restoring pollinator populations by creating a native-plant, pollinator corridor through the Rogue Valley – eventually connecting to the Cascade Siskiyou Monument.
The Rogue Buzzway map, interactive and continuously updated, created in partnership with SOU's GIS department
Although it was an ambitious vision, the need was great, and the potential benefits even greater.
Fast forward a couple years, and the FFFPG program is going strong and making a real difference thanks to our skilled and dedicated team! To complete each garden, the PPRV team first meets with fire-impacted homeowners, providing information on the importance of native pollinator gardens and clarifying the homeowner’s goals.
Then, Tiina Beaver and Vanessa Henson, PPRV’s FFFPG Coordinators, help residents create a plan that will be sustainable and manageable over the long-term. Next, as appropriate, PPRV Pollinteers and community members apply sheet mulching for soil improvement and weed suppression.
When the sheet mulch is sufficiently decomposed, the team reassembles with native plants, tools, and equipment, and creates a new pollinator garden!
Maureen's garden before and after
To top it off, homeowners are also provided with a customized garden guide with instructions and information to help them learn about and maintain their new gardens.
Andi being presented with her garden's Garden Guide by Vanessa
To date, 11 homeowners have participated in the program, and more than 350 native plants have been planted, representing more than 125 native species. As of November 2023, the FFFPG program has 6 gardens on the docket for the next 6 months.
This program depends on the amazing work of our Polllinteers, and the funding and support from the community!
Pollinteers finishing Tom and Melissa's garden - Melissa is in the red hat
The Gordon Elwood Foundation generously provided some initial funding and encouragement, and we so appreciate donations from both ACCESS and Indigo Creek Outfitters. Plant Oregon is a huge supporter, providing donated and/or deeply discounted native shrubs, trees, and flowering plants, as does Shooting Star Nursery. C3 Enterprise and Constant Gardener bring expertise, equipment, coordination, and guidance to the program and for the gardens.
We truly depend on the generosity of donors, sponsors and partners to continue this program! We are inviting additional sponsors and contributors to be a part of this important work and to help us grow the program.
Would your business, organization, or school like to be involved? Would you like to make a donation, become a sponsor, or provide a service? Visit the FFFPG webpage and sign up!
To learn more about how our From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Gardens program, the gardens, and the community benefit, watch for personal interviews with FFFPG program participants in the next installment of this series.
Thank you to Mountain Rose Herbs for sponsoring our native plant nursery and plant sales, and to Southern Oregon Subaru, for providing support for our gardens!