SKLT Expands Its Pollinator Program

In our mission to protect the natural resources and environmental health of South Kingstown, SKLT has been focusing our efforts protecting and enhancing the habitat and health of native pollinators in face of a nationwide crash. Bee and other insect populations propagate approximately 75 percent of the world’s plant species, and 30 to 40 percent of the produce we depend on for our dietary needs.

The causes of such abrupt declines include the spread of parasites and bacterial diseases, effects of large scale agricultural practices and wide-spread use of insecticides intended to protect gardens and crops, but which also decimate beneficial insects. New England’s wild honey bee populations have virtually disappeared, leaving a huge hole in our state’s pollinator supply, affecting not only our home gardens but also commercial fruit and vegetable production.

SKLT is partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and private non-profits, such as the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, South County Garden Club, and Mary LeMoine Potter Fund, to increase native pollinator habitat and breeding success on our farm properties and wooded land.

Where feasible, we have cleared areas of non-productive invasive plant species to reintroduce pollen-producing plants such as those at Weeden Farm and Biscuit City.  In December 2016, a one-acre swath planted with Xerces Society Northeast Pollinator Mix at Hollis Tucker Farm showed promising results. Now, we are involved in a comparative project featuring a fall planting of 400 native-grown pollinator seedlings and a nearby tilling and pollinator seeding of 0.4 acres of field. We are thankful for the assistance of Richard and Suzanne Enser of Ragged Orchid Farm, Rhody Native Nurseries, the South County Garden Club and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in these efforts, and look forward to progress for our pollinators!

Learn more about beneficial insects at a full day workshop on February 28 or March 1. Visit our events page for more information.