Pollinator habitat gardens have been designed, installed, and maintained at the Agricultural Learning Center (ALC), University of Massachusetts with support from the Massachusetts State Grange. The ALC pollinator habitats are demonstration gardens that show distinctive and innovative site-preparation, plant selection, and plant propagation materials and methods for beneficial insects.
During spring to autumn of 2014, pollinator habitat gardens were planted at the ALC to enhance floral and nesting resources for pollinators, while inspiring awareness and creative use of pollinator conservation practices. Conventional site-preparation practices including herbicide and tillage were used alongside unconventional no-till practices such as sheet mulching and solarization.
Plants species were selected that are:
• Known to provide pollinators with nectar, pollen, foliage, and/or refuge
• Locally adapted to climatic and site-conditions
• Locally native or non-invasive
• Organized to sequentially bloom throughout the growing-season
• Not alternate hosts for crop diseases or pests
Plant selections were acquired from Ernst Conservation Seeds (Meadville, PA), Laurenitis Farm (Sunderland, MA), Nasami Farm (Whately, MA), North Creek Nurseries (Oxford, PA), and Sudbury Nurseries West (Gill, MA). Standard bulb, transplant, and seed propagation methods were presented together with sustainable propagation methods, such as 'do nothing' and 'no-mow' horticulture. Bee forage and conservation biological control buffers, a butterfly and hummingbird hedgerow, and a pollinator phenology garden were created. All pollinator habitat gardens work interdependently, with unique themes.