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Exploring Ecopsychology: Pollinator gardens- what are they and why are they important

Updated: Jan 11

We have been in our little German flat for 7 years. In that time we have made it a pollinator heaven and small homestead. Follow along as we continue our passion of living sustainably and pursuing self sufficiency.

Exploring Ecopsychology: Pollinators. Wildflowers in the Black Forest of Germany



What are pollinators?


Pollinators are moths, butterflies, bees, wasps, ants, beetles, flies, thrips, bugs, birds, bats and more. Pollinator plants are flowering perennials, annuals, or shrubs that provide the nectar and pollen for our friends the bees, butterflies, beetles, bats, hummingbirds and other beneficial insects. Pollinator plants maintain a healthy pollinator population, which allows for crops and flowers to continue producing seeds and fruits via insect pollination (as well as a healthy garden and vibrant ecosystem). But not all flowers need pollinators. Some, for example oaks and ragweed, are wind pollinated; while some plants with bulbs or rhizomes can reproduce by creating genetic clones of themselves (Charkes, 2018).


Why a passion for pollinators?


Pollinators keep our world running, sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources. Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators (Ollerton, 2011).


Did you know that birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.

At SEELEDU we are big fans of permaculture and polyculture gardens - why the double p’s?


First we need to look at a few practices:

  • Agriculture- the practice of cultivating food for human consumption

  • Monoculture- growing of one crop or species. Typically in industrial agriculture practices

  • Permaculture - permanent + agriculture; integrates ecosystem patterns to improve the ethics and sustainability of farming practices

  • Polyculture - multiple species - growing multiples species in a single plot. Can look like companion gardening or permaculture. Great way to generate more harvests


Exploring Ecopsychology: Pollinators. cornflower wildflower

Agriculture can be broken down into two categories: Commerical and Subsistence agriculture. Thornbro (2021) states that the essential difference between these two categories is that the objective of commercial agriculture is to generate profit while subsistence farming is basically a farm that can feed a family to survive. In developed countries like North America and Germany it is common to find monoculture industrial agriculture practices to feed the population with a comfortable surplus. Monoculture is the most popular means of obtaining the food needed to provide the world; however it comes with huge implications.

Scientists are seeing an alarming decline in bee populations worldwide. This is due to monocultures and the use of crop pesticides in conventional agriculture, among other reasons such as loss of plant habitat (conversion of natural land into developed land), replacement of natural diverse plant communities with a single plant- like grass lawns or industrial monoculture practices, and climate change. Within Germany, half of the 570 or so species of wild bees at risk of extinction (Deutschland, 2018).


To counter some of the large scale industrial monoculture practices, we are fans of polyculture and permaculture gardens. We specifically design and mix in local pollinators to support our biodiversity. Locally we see monoculture industrial production of rapeseed oil, wine, grain, strawberries, asparagus and more. It is important to note that, total insect populations in Germany's nature reserves dropped by almost 80% over the last 3 decades (Charks, 2018).


All of our raised beds, ground garden and containers were planned and planted with companion gardening principles incorporating as many local pollinators as possible. By keeping our pollinators happy and thriving, we create a healthier local ecosystem and reap the benefits in our own vegetable and healing gardens. We also have an orchard with cherry, apple, and pear trees and completely filled with local pollinators! Our field is maintained a few times a year by a farmer friend who brings the sheep to graze on the lush winter grass and leave us with fertilization gifts.


From our outdoor office we watch the Traubenschwanschen (hummingbird hawk moth), countless species of butterflies, bees and helpful insects enjoy our planned pollinator garden! Did you know we keep over 30,000 bees? Do you have an interest in supporting your local environment and becoming a beekeeper? Check our posts on Bee-ginner beekeeping!

SEELEDU Tip for planning a pollinator garden:

Exploring Ecopsychology: Pollinators- Dandelion

  • think of every season, especially early season! Do some research to find out what is the earliest local blooming plant and consider starting there by adding it into your garden! The early active pollinators will be hungry, looking for nutrients and with slim pickings (check out why we love dandelions here!)


  • Plant diverse wildflowers for every season! We aim to have at least 3 different species blooming at any one time. This can be small by adding flowers to your vegetable garden (companion gardening), or adding a few containers on your balcony, to creating a small yard or "pocket" meadow in place of grass.

SEELEDU is passionate about teaching you to connect in and with nature. As active homesteaders and practicing ecopsychologists, one of our favorite tools to connect is through home, community or school gardens. Our founder Justine Ferland, has internationally started community gardens in numerous schools, community mental health centers, and residences for adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses. She finds the garden the perfect way to connect and build community, build a relationship with nature, proactively work on a goal and tap into the self.


SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.



References

Charks, S. (2018). Support your local pollinators: plant a diverse landscape. Brandywine Conservancy. www.brandywine.org

Ollerton J, Winfree R, & Tarrant S (2011). How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals? Oikos 120:321-326.

Thornbro, H.(2021). Permaculture Vs. Agriculture: How Do They Differ? https://redemptionpermaculture.com/permaculture-vs-agriculture-how-do-they-differ/

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