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Pollinator Habitat Blooms in Keene: A Conservation Opportunity Fund Story

My family has always loved gardening and wildlife, and so gardening for wildlife has always felt like a worthwhile endeavor.


At our previous home, in the haze of new parenthood we haphazardly planted native plants around the front yard with no planning or organization, when we moved we offered our plants to our neighbors- not knowing if the new owners would be gardeners or not, and vowed to plan out our next native plantings with more care and preparation. 


We moved back to Keene and started watching our yard, looking for the sunny spots, the shady areas…the wet areas too. Trying our best to read the land and see where it would be best to put our gardens.


The future site of the pollinator habitat before planting, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


Initially I figured it would take us many years to plant our pollinator habitat, starting plants from seed gradually making the garden bigger each year. Enter the Conservation Opportunity Fund! That fall, our family shared information about the grant with us that they had read about in the Monadnock Shopper News.


With the grant, I would be able to plant the whole thing, with established plants in one season! Now to get to work with some careful planning! I knew where I wanted to put the pollinator habitat, but what to plant!? I started by looking through all of the provided resources from CCCD, they were a helpful place to start, but I wanted more information, and all in one place and so the mega native pollinator plant spreadsheet was born!


This work of gathering plant data spoke to my soul more than I had expected it to, and so the list grew and grew. 


Once the List was complete I drew a map to scale of the space I wanted to designate as my pollinator habitat, then cross referencing spread & height information for the plants that had caught my eye with their preference for sun and shade, slowly the garden came together.



Project Map Created by Emily Daigle, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


We felt it was important to source the plants locally, and so I was thankful to find Fassett Farm Nursery in Jaffery, NH. Aaron Abitz was an immense help, he was generous enough to send me his inventory list so I could cross reference the plants I wanted and he helped me to find great alternatives. In the end about 29 of the 33 varieties of plants we put in the garden came from Fassett Farm.


After watching my process of digging up the sod, and seeing how long it was taking, a friend mentioned that I could rent the walk-behind tractor from the CCCD. After attending a 1 day training with the conservation district I was able to rent it right away and get my garden prepped in April!


Project site in the middle stage of planting, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


By mid-May all of the plants were in and thanks to an incredibly wet summer everything got watered in really well. It was so wonderfully satisfying to watch each plant bloom in succession its first year in the ground and it has been even more exciting to watch the plants return this spring and start to bloom for a second season!



Bunchberry in bloom, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


Echinacea and black-eyed susan in bloom, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


Weeding and gentle care will continue along with close observations of pollinators and other wild visitors.




Pollinator habitat completed, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


We’ve already seen more toads and frogs in the yard this spring than in the previous 2 years! 


Playing with worms while planting pollinator habitat, Image Credit: Emily Daigle


When I asked my children how they felt about the pollinator habitat, my 4 year old West says “It’s so beautiful, I love the flowers”, my 6 year old Hazel says “I feel great about it! I love plants, and hummingbirds and birds and insects!”

We’ve enjoyed sharing the process with our neighbors and hope more pollinator habitats will pop up in our neighborhood!



The Daigle family stands in front of their pollinator habitat project, Image Credit: Jim Murphy


We have so much gratitude for everyone who helped make this possible, the CCCD, the Conservation Opportunity Fund, Fassett Farm, family and friends.


 

Learn more about the Conservation Opportunity Fund, here! The next application round will be announced in Fall 2024.

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