Spring is on the horizon, which means it’s time to create and restore pollinator habitat!
Habitat loss is a leading cause of declining monarch butterfly populations, so a primary focus of the Monarch Joint Venture’s Conservation Implementation Plan and partnership work is increasing milkweed and nectar resources across the continent to meet national conservation goals. This habitat creation has far-reaching positive outcomes: monarch habitat supports healthy pollinator populations, and pollinator ecosystems support healthy food systems, which in turn support healthy human communities.This systems view of conservation recognizes the interconnectedness of natural and human ecosystems, whether in a park or wildland, large-scale farm, or an urban environment.
Right now, MJV California Habitat Coordinator Wynter Vaughan is busy welcoming new farmers into our California Working Lands Free Seed Program. Through the program, Wynter supports farmers and other land managers in central California to create pollinator habitat by providing free technical assistance, native milkweed plugs, and a regionally specialized 'More than Monarchs’ wildflower seed mix. Program recipients include both large-scale agriculture and small farms, and everything in between. Interested in joining the program? Learn how here.
As part of the Free Seed program, the Yisrael Family Urban Farm partnered with us to receive narrowleaf milkweed plugs and More than Monarchs wildflower seed mix last fall. Located just outside Sacramento in South Oak Park, the Yisrael Family Farm truly embodies that systems approach in which growing and sharing food connects healthy natural ecosystems and healthy human communities.
As farm founders Judith and Chanowk Yisrael described during their keynote at the 2019 EcoFarm Conference: “The farm is transforming the hood for good using urban agriculture to engage, employ, and empower our community.” In addition to operating the farm, Judith, Chanowk, and farm staff offer edible education workshops, Project G.O.O.D. (Growing Our Own Destiny) youth empowerment programs, a line of herbal healing products, and many other community outreach and advocacy initiatives.
The farm has long integrated food production with pollinator-friendly plantings such as hedgerows and other native-plant buffer zones, and they plan to continue making the farm attractive to pollinators. “We understand the importance of pollinators and the gravity of the endangerment of some species,” says Outreach Coordinator and Farmer Daniel Yisrael. “We keep bees on our site and have over 40 fruit trees and various insectaries on our property. We are looking to increase the expansion of our project and be able to keep providing fun and new ways to educate around land stewardship.”
Last fall, Daniel and other Yisrael farmers planted a quarter-acre of new habitat with the milkweed plugs and wildflower seed mix it received from MJV; we look forward to checking in later this spring to see how the habitat and the farm are blooming. Thank you Yisrael Family Urban Farm for being a powerhouse in your community with programs that help natural and human ecosystems thrive.
MJV’s California Working Lands Free Seed Program is accepting new farmers. Learn how to get involved here.
Photo Credits: Yisrael Family Farm & Wynter Vaughan
We would like to acknowledge Project Apis m. for launching this program under their Seeds for Bees initiative, and for their partnership with the MJV to help it succeed. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provides support for our California Habitat Coordinator to support growers, with matching support provided by the MJV, The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund and Keystone Policy Center. Funding for the More than Monarchs seed mix and plant materials is provided by Bayer.