Know Your Org: Plymouth Pollinators

"Know Your Org" is an informational series designed to spotlight some of the wonderful organizations in our community. This month we are highlighting Plymouth Pollinators

Q: What is the Plymouth Pollinators’ mission and how do you strive to achieve it?

A: "Plymouth Pollinators’ mission is to increase pollinator habitat within the community through education, collaboration and the use of native plants in local garden spaces. We work with residents, small businesses and municipalities to create a garden plan and provide educational materials on what to plant, the importance of native plants, the risks of pesticide use and how to attract pollinators. We also organize volunteer events to allow community members to 'get their hands dirty' and create pollinator habitat, one small space at a time."

Q: What is the history of the Plymouth Pollinators?

A: "Plymouth Pollinators had a soft start in the summer of 2019 with residents David and Carly Cirilli working alongside the City of Plymouth’s Department of Municipal Services. A small garden space near Kellogg Park that needed some love and attention became our first pollinator garden in the City of Plymouth.

However, it was during the pandemic that our mission grew significantly. While the world was in lockdown, we expanded the scope of the gardens to two larger public park spaces. As people began emerging from their homes later that summer, the gardens started to get a lot of interest. We were getting a lot of questions from passerby, so we started a Plymouth Pollinators Facebook group where people could ask garden and pollinator questions, and share tips and tricks.

Three years and several new gardens later, we became a 501c3 nonprofit organization working to increase community awareness around pollinator habitats."

Q: How can people become more educated about the benefits of planting native species and where to get them?

A: "Learning about native plants does take a bit of effort. Major retail chains and large nurseries typically don't stock native plants, even though they may advertise their plants as being beneficial for pollinators. Luckily, there are many native plant nurseries throughout Michigan to choose from. The folks who own or work at those nurseries have a wealth of information and are more than happy to talk about native plants with anyone.

Attending native plant sales offers an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to native plants and connect with fellow enthusiasts. Additionally, there are numerous social media groups dedicated to native plants and gardening that share information about pollinator habitat and local webinars or events.

Folks can also engage with organizations such as their local Wild Ones chapter, or other groups like the Wildflower Association of Michigan (WAM). On a national level, the Xerces Society, National Wildlife Federation, and Pollinator Partnership have a wealth of information. There are also plenty of books out there on native plants. Authors we would recommend for beginners are Doug Tallamy, Heather Holm, Nancy Lawson, and local author Brenda Dziedzic.

Lastly, you can visit our website. We try to take the guesswork out of creating habitats and planting native plants, so we have plenty of educational materials, including a booklist on our Education page and a list of local native plant nurseries on our Why Native Plants page."

Q: Where can people find the gardens that the Plymouth Pollinators have created?

A: "We have about 12 community gardens (and counting) throughout the City of Plymouth; both large and small. We have a map posted on our Gardens page on the website."

Q: What are your most popular events and where can people find out more about the events you offer?

A: "We have spring and fall plant sales over at the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) that are very well attended. Our garden install events are also very popular as well as the invasive species clean-up events we’ve had in the past couple of years.

Lastly, Pollinator Week in June is a busy time for us. Our local Penn Theatre shows pollinator-themed documentaries during that time. We give an introduction before the movies, pass out educational materials and swag, and answer questions from the community. We post all our events on our social media platforms and our website."

Check out the Plymouth Pollinators' Facebook page, Facebook group, Instagram page, and website

Q: Do you host events in the winter? If so, how important is the winter season in regard to your mission?

A: "We hosted our first winter sowing workshop this year and it was a lot of fun. This is an event that we’ll continue to do annually.

Winter is important because it’s a time of rest, reflection, and planning. While all of the little pollinators and native plants are slumbering, gardeners can take time to reflect on the previous year and think about their next garden adventure. For some, that may mean tearing out lawn and creating new garden spaces. For others, it may be enhancing existing spaces.

Winter is a quiet time when we can give ourselves permission to take a rest and dream about creating future garden spaces and reuniting with our little pollinator friends. For Plymouth Pollinators, winter gives us a little time to slow down and do our strategic planning for the upcoming season."

Q: What is the best way to get involved with the Plymouth Pollinators? Are there volunteer and donation opportunities?

A: "The best way to get involved is to keep an eye out for our events on our social media platforms or our website. We also have a volunteer form that folks can fill out on our website. Donations can be made through our website, PayPal, Venmo (@plymouthpollinators), or you can mail a check to our address."

Plymouth Pollinators
650 Church St, Ste 303
Plymouth, MI 48170

Q: What are some things you’d like people to know about the Plymouth Pollinators that they may not know? What are common misconceptions?

A: "People often think that Plymouth Pollinators is our full-time job, when in reality we do a balancing act between our full-time jobs and Plymouth Pollinators. We spend most of our weekends, late nights, and vacation days working on Plymouth Pollinators initiatives and events.

Another fun fact is that the Plymouth Pollinators board of directors is led by women. We have a pretty “boss” group of women who have successful careers in higher education, as well as the automotive, environmental and IT industries.

A common misconception we get from folks is that we do beekeeping or have beehives. Even though honeybees play an important role in our agricultural industry, our focus is solely on creating pollinator habitat and protecting native bees and other pollinator insects."