This season the Cheshire Pollinator Pathway will find room to bloom in a new space. The native plant initiative, which operates under the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire, entered into an agreement with the town to manage the former Cheshire West Community Butterfly Gardens, located on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.
Officially transferred to the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire last month, the garden is adjacent to the Ball & Socket Arts project and will now be known as Cheshire Pollinator Pathway at Railroad Avenue.
This is the second of two native plant gardens for the group on the town’s portion of the trail.
The original Cheshire Pollinator Pathway was completed in 2021 and is located on North Brooksvale Road, across from the Lock 12 historic site.
The group’s mission is to create closely-spaced, native, straight-species food and habitat oases for pollinators such as butterflies, moths, bees, birds, and other wildlife, in response to the devastating decline of pollinator and bird populations in the past few years.
“The gardens not only benefit enhancing biodiversity, but they have a positive impact on people. These gardens are visually stunning. They’re beautiful,” said Joanna deBear, Pollinator Pathway’s assistant director.
Town Economic Development Coordinator Andrew Martelli also sees the gardens as a win for the community.
“The addition of the West Main Street gardens to the Pollinator Pathway group is a natural fit,” he said. “Their work and mission is so important to the environment and will enhance the West Main Street district. The town so appreciates the volunteers’ efforts and dedication and is ecstatic for the continued partnership.”
Cheshire West Community Butterfly Gardens founder Gary Richards installed the gardens with state and local assistance in 2018 as the last phases of the multi-use trail were completed. Reflecting on his past with the garden, Richards called the experience a pleasure.
“Contributing to my community this way has been so rewarding,” he said.
DeBear said Richards “did an outstanding job of establishing what can be seen there now.
“His vision aligns perfectly with Cheshire Pollinator Pathway by avoiding pesticides and planting natives,” she added. “We hope to continue what Gary started and keep this garden as a beacon for our pollinators and all that come by to see it.”
Richards worked with members of the Petit Family Foundation to establish an official “Michaela’s Garden” in the space. Cheshire Pollinator Pathway has committed to continue that relationship with the foundation.
“The new garden will also allow us to provide opportunities for engagement,” said Katie Bateson, Pollinator Pathway stewardship leader. “For instance, we work with students of all ages in various environmental projects. Then there’s Master Gardeners who are working on their certifications and Boy and Girl Scouts, and others, looking for projects or who need community service hours. We also host educational workshops and speakers.”
Cheshire Pollinator Pathway is a grassroots movement, made up of public and private pesticide-free corridors of native plants that provide nutrition and habitat for pollinating insects and birds. Even the smallest green spaces, like flower boxes and curb strips, can be part of a pathway.
For more information, visit sustainablecheshire.org or contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.