It’s been a busy summer for Morgan Creek Farm as they embarked on their bee education and planting project! Together with local students, the Nanaimo family farm has transformed a previously sparse pasture into a thriving habitat for pollinators.
For farm owner Aaron Grant, the project began as a way to teach local residents about “the needs of bees.” With funding through the provincial government’s Bee BC Program, Aaron began the community outreach initiative with his own hives in tow, taking them to summer camps, schools, festivals and markets.
“I took bees to show and explain to people about why bees are important for us and how individuals can make a contribution by planting pollinator-friendly plants,” explains Aaron.
After completing the educational component of the project, five classes of elementary school students visited Morgan Creek Farm to construct and plant “bee gardens” in areas with low plant diversity and soil quality. Prior to their arrival, Aaron and several volunteers prepared the soil, built water catching swales, installed fencing and watering equipment, and applied manure, fertilizer and mulch in preparation for the winter. As a result, the area is now a productive and diverse bee habitat that blooms throughout the seasons!
“The live bees were a great way to demonstrate how special bees are and allowed me to create a connection with people about how to help them,” Aaron recalls. “The planting project was amazing with hundreds of plants planted in a very short time, I was so impressed with how seriously the students took their job.”
While Nanaimo is not considered the most hospitable region for pollinators, with habitat often limited to weedy patches of broom and blackberries along fence lines, local bees will soon have a place to call home as the new gardens will offer a more stable and diverse source of food and shelter.
Beyond the success of the gardens, Aaron is confident that something even more transformative has taken root.
“By engaging students in the project, we have created ambassadors for the ongoing health of bees,” he predicts. “The students were excited to help do something concrete and inspired to consider their own households as potential pollinator habitats.”