Mohawk builds a rooftop pollination paradise
$6,000 grant from World Wildlife Fund helps with project
Native grasses and bright-coloured flowers such as the rudbeckia outline the patio area on a section of the library’s roof at Mohawk College.
Elisha Martin, a paralegal student at the college, is working diligently in the 223-square-metre rooftop garden. She’s digging a small hole to plant a sunflower hoping it will entice more bees or other insects to pollinate.
It won’t be long before the garden is lush and buzzing with activity thanks in part to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada’s Go Wild community grant initiative.
Mohawk College was among more than 250 applicants and will receive $6,000 to put toward its Pollination Paradise initiative. What’s more, the college was the only one in the country to receive the grant.
“It’s exciting to work with a group like the World Wildlife Fund because they’re a progressive organization doing a lot to protect and educate people about the importance of our natural environment,” said Alan Griffiths, manager of sustainability at Mohawk.
Their goal is to increase the amount of pollinators that visit all of the gardens on campus, support local food production and help diversify the plant population while creating a space to be used as a “learning environment” for the staff, students and members of the community.
“They can visit the garden, they can learn about the plants, the importance of pollinators in an urban setting and the importance of green roofs,” said Griffiths.
They also plan to hire a parttime student to maintain the garden and monitor pollinator activity.
Impressed with “their commitment to sustainability” WWF’s Sarah Winterton, director of nature-connected communities, says Mohawk was selected based on the timing of the venture considering the “issues of pollinators and the stress on bees and other insects and their ability to connect with the surrounding community.”
“Given the student population and all the different ways it connects with the community around it, it really has the capacity to help replicate the project in other household gardens or other green spaces,” said Winterton.
“Mohawk is well-positioned to help carry forward this opportunity to play a role in re-establishing healthy pollinator habitat.”
According to Winterton, there are 400 wild bee species in Eastern Canada. The rusty-patched bumble bee “used to proliferate in southern Ontario” but was added to Ontario’s list of species-at-risk in 2010.
“We want to play a role in strengthening the connection Canadians have to nature,” she said. “We need pollinators as part of the vital part of our food system.”
WWF gave out grants between $1,000 and $7,000. Twenty other projects were successful — recipients included small non-government organizations, community groups and individuals.
The program launched in 2015 with more than $100,000 given out so far. Through the college’s Sustainability Initiatives Fund — a partnership with students — the college matched WWF’s contribution, bringing the total investment in the rooftop garden to $12,000.
About a dozen native grasses and flowers will be planted over the next few weeks.
We want to play a role in strengthening the connection Canadians have to nature. SARAH WINTERTON WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
Elisha Martin, community garden co-ordinator at Mohawk College, plants a sunflower in one of the gardens of the rooftop Pollinators Paradise Project.