By Emma Castleberry
Asheville GreenWorks has received a $9,000 grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area grant program to install pollinator meadows and educational signage on the Wilma Dykeman Greenway, a 17-mile stretch of parks, walking and bike paths along the French Broad River. This will be added to a $5,000 contribution from Pine Gate Renewables made in January of 2021, also for the purpose of developing pollinator habitat along the greenway.
GreenWorks began site preparation for the pollinator meadows in May in partnership with City of Asheville Parks and Recreation and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). The preparation process includes solarizing with a big sheet of plastic and tilling grass to get the land ready for sowing seeds. Solarizing and tilling will take place through the summer and fall and seeding for the meadow will be done in the winter. “As stewards of the City’s parks and open space, we are looking to partner with groups like GreenWorks who are focused on raising public awareness of the current pollinator crisis and outlining actions to protect them,” says Pete Wall, focus area manager for Asheville Parks & Recreation. “Initiatives like these allow us to increase our city’s capacity to promote pollinator protection within parks and to engage and educate the community on what they can do to help. With the installation of these meadows, parks play an important role in increasing habitat for pollinators. These meadows also have been shown to increase ecological resilience in our city, improve water quality by filtering stormwater runoff, reduce heat island effects and create attractive park spaces for our city to enjoy.”
Pollinator meadows are a popular landscape development around our region in recent years. These features were included in the French Broad River Tree and Riparian Enhancement Plan, developed by Equinox Environmental for the City of Asheville in 2018. In March of 2020, GreenWorks launched the Native Pollinator Garden Certification program. There are now 64 certified gardens throughout Buncombe County. “It’s so encouraging to see businesses, the city government and the community coming together to support the creation of pollinator habitats in Asheville,” says Dawn Chavez, executive director of GreenWorks. “As green space like the Wilma Dykeman Greenway is added to our city, it can be both beautiful and functional. Native wildflower pollinator meadows are an important part of a healthy urban ecosystem.”
From Saturday, June 19, to Sunday, June 27, Asheville will host Pollination Celebration!. This event celebrates Asheville’s status as a Bee City USA Affiliate with a week of pollinator activities from puppet shows to garden tours to honey tastings. Find a full list of activities posted on the GreenWorks website as they become available: AshevilleGreenworks.org/pollination-celebration.