Hey everyone, I’m Matt. I’d like to tell you about a project I’m working on. It’s early, but I think it could be really good for a lot of reasons. Over the course of these blog posts, I’ll tell you about them.
We’re not perfect and were not out to save the world. We just want to help.
So, without further adieu, let me tell you about the Wildflower Project…
For me, the Wildflower Project is really about untapped potential. We see diamonds in the rough, the once green spaces that have now become maligned patches of nothingness. The locations we target are familiar; strips of gravel and weeds scattered about the industrial zones of our lovely city, areas behind factories that are unkempt and unused or any place you see a lack of quality species diversity. What we strive to do is create pockets of habitat all over this dense urban network, we do this by planting wildflowers.
It sounds simple right? You mean to tell me that its as easy as planting the seed of a flower that has been adapting for survival for thousands of years? YES! Wildflower seeds are so incredibly resilient, they will grow in virtually any condition. Wanting to do this stemmed from frustration. I hate the lack of habitat for our pollinators and the lack of beauty in the majority of our cities. When I see these spaces I am describing, I only see what they COULD be. I want everyone to see patches of dirt as opportunities, chances to make a difference.
What kind of difference do I think we will make? The answer: a big one. By creating “islands” of habitat, we allow our pollinator species such as bees, birds and butterflies to navigate the urban landscape safely. This web of gardens will provide micro-habitats, almost motels for wildlife to stay at as they pollinate their way through the city.
Another important impact is beautifying, bringing vibrant and lush color to the areas where it is needed most. The 100 ft strip of weeds alongside a stucco warehouse wall is depressing, but when a colorful palette of butterfly attracting wildflowers is grown against it…magic happens. The people driving that old route past the dirty factory will now be delighted to drive past their favorite patch of wildflowers. The warehouse employee having a bad day, maybe they stroll past this new garden we created and it changes their day, their outlook. I believe that Wildflower Project has that type of power, that type of energy.
The Wildflower Project was an idea that started in my final year of college. I was thinking of ways I could change the world with the things I learned studying Environmental Design and Horticulture at the University of Minnesota. I thought of wildflowers, the light bulb went off and my pen went crazy. The idea took off in my head and I began to share my beliefs and my mission to the people around me, or anyone else who would listen (there are a lot of baristas rolling their eyes right now). That was when I started telling my old college buddy Ean about it, he is a competitive guy and the type who will let you know when something sucks…but he will never deny a truly good idea. He liked what the wildflower project was about and he had something I needed, organization and the ability to market my ideas. We joined forces and ideas began to flow faster than hockey hair in March. Shortly thereafter, when discussing non-profit options, Ean suggested I meet with one of his good friends, Matty P. When you meet Matt, he is something special and his energy is always electric. I wasn’t surprised when he loved the mission, Matt has a green thumb himself. We talked wildflowers and possibilities, it was shortly thereafter I decided to add Matt to the Wildflower Project team.
Now we are here, its the year 2016 and honestly we are just three guys who are trying to do something worth a damn that might actually stick with us. We are working to reconcile with nature and right the wrongs that have been done on our environment. The crazy thing is that we aren’t who you think we are, this isn’t a bunch of hippies throwing seed while grateful dead plays in the background. We have always cared about the environment but its not like we have been activists. But right there, that is what is so beautiful about the Wildflower Project is that you do not HAVE to be some uppity environmentalist to give a damn about how the earth around you looks and is being treated.
So we finally did it, we went out and put our money where our mouth is. On Wednesday, May 11, the Wildflower Project installed its first guerrilla garden. A 500 square ft strip between two rail-lines. Its gold, this place has NOTHING, it is trash and gravel. Here we are, out in the drizzling rain having the time of our lives planting wildflower seed. We left that night feeling damn good about what we did, itching for the next time we can hear the rake hit that ground.
Turns out we didn’t have to wait long, by Saturday we have already cleared another 1,400 sq ft. The land is prepped and ready for another beautiful batch of 100% pure North American wildflower seeds from Vermont based American Meadows. That means by next week, we will have already seeded 2,000 square feet of wildflowers. I could not be more excited for what the future holds, let the summer begin!
(Habitat) Matt W.