A library fit for a monarch

When you go to the library in Ingersoll, Ontario, it may not be because you want to take out a book. The Ingersoll Public Library took up the challenge of helping nature thrive through a community-based initiative to support pollinator gardens. Putting bees before books, in the spring of 2015, the Ingersoll Branch of Oxford County Library received a WWF Go Wild Grant to launch their guerilla gardening and pollinator project.

One of the monarch butterflies reared by the Ingersoll Public Library after release into their pollinator garden. © Lynn Sutherland
One of the monarch butterflies reared by the Ingersoll Public Library after being released into their pollinator garden. © Lynn Sutherland

Tiny pollinating insects are crucial to life on Earth. Bees, flies, moths and butterflies are all needed to pollinate plants, including fruits and vegetables – a total of one-third of the food we eat. However, pollinators are in decline due to pesticides, pollution, climate change and a loss of habitat and food sources. Lynn Sutherland, branch supervisor of the library, and Beverly Robb, Treasurer of the Ingersoll Public Library Advisory Committee, saw an opportunity to make a difference by encouraging the planting of native pollinator plants throughout their town and educating community members on the importance of taking action to protect pollinators.
The project involved some simple guerilla gardening tactics to aid seed dispersal using clay “seed bombs.” Thrown on derelict or unused property, the seed bombs break apart on impact and provide the conditions for successful germination when nature provides the rain. Teens, tweens and home-schooling groups, including parents, learned about this seed dispersal tactic, and over 30 community members participated in seed bombing around town.
Project participants monitored the seeds over the summer, and are hopeful for germination next spring. Seeds from successful plants will be harvested for the library to share with the community.
The library also began their own pollinator garden in a nearby plot donated by the Town of Ingersoll. The garden was planted with monarch butterfly and pollinator-friendly plants, using only native species, and features non-invasive perennials such as Swamp Milkweed, Giant Hyssop, Spiderwort, and more. Lynn said the garden was a success: “It was thriving and healthy, and butterflies, bees, and other insects could be seen on the plants.”
A student releasing a monarch butterfly into the Ingersoll Public Library’s pollinator garden. © Lynn Sutherland
A student releasing a monarch butterfly into the Ingersoll Public Library’s pollinator garden. © Lynn Sutherland

The Ingersoll Public Library also gave visitors the chance to observe the miracle of metamorphosis. With a monarch rearing kit on display, people could watch the process of butterflies emerging from chrysalides. Four school classes visited the library every other day to check on the butterfly progress, and eventually all the butterflies were released into the pollinator garden.
“Patrons comment on how great it is that the library is focusing on the environment in many of its programs, citing the garden, the workshops, the monarch rearing, and the seed library,” said Lynn. “Parents have expressed their appreciation that the library puts the environment at the forefront of many of the programs here, and that we are educating the next generation to be involved in green issues, sustainability, and creating less waste.”
When you go to the Ingersoll Public Library, of course you can always take out a book and enjoy the pleasure of reading. But, if you want to take action on helping monarchs and other pollinators, then this little library is also the place to be! For more information on pollinators, monarchs, and guerrilla gardening, visit the Ingersoll Library – in person or online at: www.ocl.net
Have an idea of your own to get people in your community connected to nature? Visit wwf.ca/gowild today to apply for w Go Wild Grant and we’ll help you turn your ideas into action! Hurry – the application deadline is December 21, 2015.