ReThink Red Deer is celebrating the summer solstice by reviving natural parkland around the Piper Creek Community Garden.
Plantings of lilac and other native species will be done on Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23, at the Canada 150 Pollinator Garden. Members of Living Lands Landscape and Design firm will also be on site, helping repair the natural degradation that’s happened over the winter to the pollinator hotel.
These restorative efforts can always use more volunteers, said Rene Michalak, a project lead for ReThink Red Deer.
He invites anyone who wants to pitch in, and learn more about how native species will help rebuild the local pollinator population, to drop in from 10 to 5 p.m. on either day. Lunch will be provided.
The Canada 150 Pollinator Garden is one kilometre past the landfill, on the east side of 40th Avenue, where the City of Red Deer’s Piper Creek Community Garden plots are also located.
Before this 25-acres was annexed by the city, it used to be part of an intensive grazing farm operation.
Michalak said some re-planting was done last year, but a lot of noxious weeds and remnants of agricultural crops still need to be replaced with willows, dogwood, poplars and other native seedlings.
More work also needs to be done to clean up the creek bank, where a “non-conforming crossing” was previously removed, he added.
The point is “to better integrate urban living with the environment,” said Michalak, who noted habitat degradation is taking a toll.
Strong populations of pollinators — such as bees, ladybugs, beetles, hummingbirds — are needed to sustain diverse plant life in the region, yet the number of bees and other pollinators are dropping.
In early summer, ReThink Red Deer plans to start a crowd-funding campaign to raise the $60,000 needed to rebuild the former barn on the site. Much of the old wood is rotted and unusable, said Michalak.
He sees three main benefits of the barn structure. Besides its aesthetic value, rain water will be “harvested” from its eaves to water plants at the site, and insects can use its wood as habitat. “It will be the biggest pollinator hotel.”