Audubon New York’s For the Birds! program has joined forces with the West Side Community Garden in Manhattan to help native plants bloom. For the second year, 2nd grade students visited the garden in late May to participate in a planting day – this year, planting only native plants – as part of the environmental education lessons received through For the Birds!
Over 60 students rolled up their sleeves to add over one hundred pollinator-friendly perennial plants to the community garden, including Spotted Beebalm and Purple Mistflower – the native plants were distributed across the garden’s 12 plots.
Judy Robinson, member of the West Side Community Garden Board, says this liaison between Audubon and the garden is “a natural fit of complimentary missions – each adds value to the other.”
The hands-on element of this gardening project brings For the Birds! in-school classroom lessons to life. These young “gardeners of the future,” as Judy puts it, are not only learning valuable information about nature and birds, but are also bringing knowledge to the community gardeners and the organization as a whole.
An enthusiasm and interest in native plants has begun to take root amongst the community gardeners, which is great for birds! Judy describes the collaboration as “an educational process; for many of us in addition to the kids.”
Signage within the garden proudly touts the fact that native plants have been installed, and many gardeners are now able to differentiate between native and non-native. Native plants not only thrive more easily, requiring less maintenance, but they also host native insects that birds rely on for food.
The organically grown, native perennial seedlings were sourced from Prairie Moon and Kind Earth Growers nurseries.