Thank YOU, Pete Gonzalves, Pollinteer!
~ by Julia Babb
To start the New Year off right, PPRV is delighted to introduce and congratulate Pete Gonzalves as our “Volunteer in the Spotlight” for January, 2021! I recently asked Pete how he got involved as a PPRV “Pollinteer”, and he recounted that about four or five years ago, he was tabling for the Rogue River Watershed Council at the Land Steward’s “Living on Your Land Conference”. As is typical of “tablers” at these events, Pete and Kristina strolled around at the conference and visited each other at their respective tables. They introduced themselves and got to chatting about how their organizations supported people who were already living on their land, or wanted to.
Pete has a wealth of knowledge with regard to native plants, pollinators, and organics, gleaned from his wide range of experience here in the Valley and beyond. He has done everything from working at nurseries, to serving as a board member of the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society (writing letters to the Bureau of Land Management about rare and endangered native plant species), to working at the USDA’s Plant Materials Center doing research and development as a Native Plants Technician. Oh, he was also the Executive Director of Oregon Tilth in the early 2000’s, and is very knowledgeable about fruit tree pest management and organic certification, too!
Despite all these impressive credentials, Pete humbly describes his interest in native plants as a hobby. He loves propagating native shrubs, and is also growing several plants at his new home nursery--rosemary, lavender and pelargonium--for his neighbors. AND, he is sharing his super powers with PPRV as well! Last year, while working on his Land Steward Certification, Pete learned that he would need to volunteer for an organization related to land stewardship in order to fulfill the requirements of the program. He remembered Kristina and PPRV, so he reached out to see if there might be a project he could help with. Indeed there was!
PPRV had been wanting to create educational cards about the native plants we have growing in our frontscape at the office. Our idea was to provide a handy guide to help Rogue Valley gardeners learn how to support pollinators with native plant species. Well, Pete jumped right into the project, writing all the descriptions for these cards for some 30 plant species--the plants, the pollinators they support, and the optimal soil, sunlight and water conditions for each plant. Yet another of his super powers is the ability to write clear, concise descriptions that fit on a 6 x 10 card along with graphics and photos! With Pete’s help, we are now on the home stretch to finishing our lovely and informative Native Plant Pollinator Garden Guide!
With his impressive knowledge of and experience with Oregon’s native plants and pollinators, we consider ourselves very fortunate to work with and recognize Pete as our Pollinteer this month! Congratulations on your Land Steward Certification, Pete! And many thanks for all your help with our new Native Plant Pollinator Garden Guide! Happy 2021!