Tricia Braid

Mar 29, 2016  |  Today's News

You may not be sure if you have a role to play in the preservation of pollinators and monarchs, but just about everybody else thinks you do. The good news is that most people think there is something that everyone can do, so farmers won’t be carrying the entire load of conservation efforts on this topic. The other good news is that it looks like you can play a big role by making small changes. The Obama Administration and the USDA are all-in regarding pollinators, and earlier this week, during the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll, USDA rolled out their new pollinator initiative.

USDA urged Americans of all ages to “Plant a Window Box for Pollinators” by using a new, free online tool available at the redesigned People’s Garden Initiative website. What does this have to do with you? Well, things are coming down the road with regard to the need for landowners and farmers to participate. In particular, the National Fish and Wildlife Service has been petitioned to consider placing the Monarch Butterfly on the Endangered Species List. Although you may not be interested in a “window box,” you may have some ground somewhere that could be seeded to pollinator friendly plants with little trouble.

USDA’s new tool allows people to determine which plants will provide pollinator forage based on their zip code. Site visitors can then print out the list of plants to take to their local garden store and grown them in a window box. There is also a virtual window box game. Even a space as small as a window box can help pollinators by ensuring they don’t have to fly too far to find food. The interactive People’s Garden website also includes the popular live USDA “bee cam” which broadcasts honeybee activity on the roof of USDA’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

The new People’s Garden website is just in time as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated April as National Garden Month.

The People’s Garden Initiative works with agencies and offices across USDA and with federal, state and local partners to start and sustain gardens with the mission of growing healthy food, people and communities. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Transportation and Marketing Program oversees the Initiative for the Department.