Fall ’16 Recap

It’s time for an overdue update from The Wildflower Project. A lot happened this fall, both in terms of our organization’s progress and the attention the pollinator issue is getting. We are so excited to help contribute to this cause and we’re very grateful for the support of our community.

Now to the update…

Throughout the summer, we’ve been in discussions with Joy of the People to plant a hillside garden in South Saint Anthony Park. Our Genesis garden – the one that got this whole thing going. We’ve gone through all the proper channels, including the Parks & Rec. Dept. of St. Paul and the Land Use Committee of District 12, and thanks to these caring members of our community, the project is going to move forward this spring.

In the meantime, JOTP was generous enough to give us a 200 sq. ft. flower bed, overgrown with weeds, adjacent to their rec center. We jumped at the chance and in one afternoon, we cleared the space and planted a dozen perennial flowers in addition to the organic seed we laid down. It’s going to be a beautiful garden in a few months and a great way to formalize our relationship with a great organization. We can’t wait to continue our work with JOTP in 2017.

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Not long after we planted at JOTP, the University of Minnesota opened their brand new Bee Research Lab in St. Paul. Habitat Matt and myself checked it out personally and were quite impressed. It’s an amazing space with endless opportunity to learn more about honeybees.

We soon realized that the driving force behind the Lab was none other than renowned entomologist, Marla Spivak. A leading researcher on the topic, right in our own backyard…what are the odds?

Check out this Ted Talk Marla gave a few years ago…

Can’t make it up. Exactly what she calls for to help the crisis is exactly what we’re doing. It really gave us a shot in the arm and motivated us to continue pushing our mission forward.

From an organizational standpoint, we agreed it was time to get serious. We don’t have the resources to become a formal 501c3…not yet. We did, however, find an alternative in the short-term where the St. Anthony Park Community Council will serve as our Fiscal Agent. Meaning we can take tax-deductible donations and apply for non-profit grants through their organization.

In November, we we’re sitting on about 1,200 sq. ft. of seeded gardens. It was a good start, but short of our first-year goal of 2,000. A few of our partnership gardens we’re taking a little longer than expected. Obviously, our big project at JOTP wasn’t going to happen until 2017, and another agreement with Cornerstone Community Garden in Minneapolis was on hold.

So we devised a plan. We targeted about 6 spots around our neighborhood that fit our criteria for an urban garden install. They were overgrown, orphaned spots of land that no one seemed to care for. No one would mind if we planted there. So that’s what we did.

On a brisk weekend in mid-November, we rented a trailer and some equipment and proceeded to clear four spots. We’ve affectionately named them: The Triangle, Under the Bridge, Noah, and Redemption. In total, we added about 3,000 sq. ft. to our total.

A few weeks later, we returned to our cleared gardens with different mixtures of organic seed, and spread it out. Just before the first major frost of the year. Our first Guerrilla Garden Party was a wonderful success.

Here’s a time lapse of our work at The Triangle. Stay tuned for photos next spring…

Not long after our Garden Party, we had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Cornerstone Community Garden in Prospect Park (Mpls.). We pitched them our idea and they loved it. They gave us 2,000 sq. ft. to clear and seed, no restrictions. The only issue, winter was a few days away – the first snowfall was on its way!

So on a chilly, windy evening a couple days before Thanksgiving, the wildflower boys grabbed our rakes and hoes and cleared a massive plot in a snowstorm. It was a lot of fun. We seeded a few days later and put a wrap on our first year of gardening.

In total, we planted 9 gardens, transforming more than 6,400 sq. ft. of wasted space into forageable habitat for pollinators.

Three partnership gardens, five guerrilla gardens, and one residential garden. We tripled our goal. We met tons of caring people who love our mission. The cost was minimal, and the impact could be amazing. We’re very excited for our spring bloom.

There’s a lot more to come next year. We expect a volunteer event in the spring with JOTP. We are developing a relationship that would allow us to establish a “headquarters plot”, where educational activities could take place. And we have a dozen garden prospects for next spring. The opportunities seem endless.

It’s been an amazing first year. I don’t think any of us expected we’d come this far in such a short amount of time.

Thank you to all our partners, friends, family and followers for supporting our mission. We can all affect change in our communities, it doesn’t take much effort. Remember, it starts with a seed.

See you in the spring. T-dub ’16 out.

– Mr. E

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