What was your perspective of where “nature” occurred when you were little? Or even now? Assuming you are no longer a kid. Was your impression that “nature” was in the woods, or at the beach or up on mountaintops; where you hiked, caught frogs, or in that open field through which you skipped? Or in those places that you imagined, if you never fully had the chance to immerse yourself in them? Did you EVER picture it in a city?
Humans are dependent on ecosystem services provided by a thriving natural environment to produce the oxygen we breathe, to prevent floods in our streets, to pollinate the plants that bring us the fruits, vegetables, and legumes we eat. But we have spent decades paving our land for conveniences and glorifying the pristine, green residential lawn using toxic pesticides that harm our planet.
According to Doug Tallamy, revered entomologist from University of Delaware, 85.6% of the US east of the Mississippi River is privately-owned land, including residential lots, highway underpasses, and millions of acres of pipelines. Land that if dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of ecosystems services by way of increasing quantities of and decreasing fragmentation of flowering plant patches, can contribute to the earth in a big way. This can contribute to our physical and mental health in a big way, too. The average person may not have an impact on those highway underpasses, but defragmenting our urban environments and our world begins with little planted interventions at home and in our own neighborhoods. Everyone can play an integral part.
We are delighted to be a part of a larger movement that promotes plants for pollinators (butterflies, birds, bees, but also bats, flies, beetles etc.) in underutilized spaces, in unexpected places, and in areas that are accessible to all walks of life. Nature’s beauty and benefits should not, and for the sake of our planet, cannot be reserved only for the far-off destinations of our vacations. From public school grounds to 4x8 city tree pits, from residential container gardens to church parking lots, from community gardens to urban plazas, there are places for pollinators to dine and reside, places for nature to thrive right where we are.
Photographs + Words by Cherisse Otis.