Investing in Local Pollinators
Pollinators may appear small, but they have a massive impact in our ecosystem. These buzzing bees and native pollinators are a necessary, yet often forgotten, component of our food system. When habitat needs are met, these fundamental creatures can produce the fruits we love, and many of the seeds that provide our nourishing foods. We need their help as much as they need ours. Given the significant decline in bee populations, it is a crucial time for farms to create healthy habitats, food, and refuge for our pollinators.
The American Farmland Trust is providing a new program in Grand Traverse County, the Farmland Pollinator Protection Project. The project provides opportunities and financial assistance to offer support and installation of pollinator habitats on local farms.
Are you a business or individual in Grand Traverse that has interest in investing in 40 acres of crucial pollinator habitats, or a local farm looking to install a pollinator habitat on your own farmland?
Learn more here about the Farmland Pollinator Protection Project and funding available here!
What’s the Buzz in Grand Traverse?
The Farmland Pollinator Protection Project Gives Bees a Boost
Pollinators Are Disappearing
The native and managed pollinators that are vital to Michigan’s agricultural products are facing a crisis. Since 2006, managed honeybee hives have suffered significant decline, with hive losses reported between 30-90%. In addition to this loss of managed bees, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed more than 50 wild pollinator species as threatened or endangered. The suspected cause is “Colony Collapse Disorder,” thought to be the result of a combination of pesticides, parasites, viruses, loss of foraging habitat, and a changing climate. With an estimated 35% of our crops dependent on pollination, this is a problem that will have a significant impact on everyone.
Michiganders and Businesses Can Directly Invest in Local Pollinator Habitat
The Farmland Pollinator Protection Project (FPPP) is a special initiative partially funded through a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Innovation Grant with the goal of providing high-quality pollinator habitat and forage resources for managed honey bees and wild pollinators in the Grand Traverse area. Started through a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, this pilot initiative will test the potential for generating investments from sustainability-minded businesses, individuals, and foundations for the creation of quality pollinator habitat on protected local farms.
With the help of local businesses, individuals, and foundations, the FPPP plans to initially fund the establishment of 40 acres of high-quality pollinator habitat on new or existing protected farmland sites in the Grand Traverse area. The project has successfully established almost 20 acres and is confident local investors can help meet the 40-acre goal. The participating landowners will receive financial and professional assistance with site preparation, a specially designed pollinator seed mix based on MSU research, installation, first-year maintenance, and an annual stipend for the project duration to help offset the profits that may be forfeited by taking land out of production. The project sites will be monitored during the five-year landowner commitment to ensure that the land remains in pollinator habitat during the project and that the sites are being maintained to minimize encroachment of invasive species, thus helping to ensure the success of the plantings and maximize the benefits to pollinators. As the project expands beyond the pilot phase, the goal is to install more acres of habitat throughout Michigan and the Midwest.
How to Participate in the Farmland Pollinator Protection Project
For information on how you can get involved, visit the Farmland Pollinator Protection Project website at www.Farmland.org/PollinatorProtection or contact Brian Brandt at American Farmland Trust at [email protected]. Investors will be offered marketing materials, including window decals, posters, flags, use of the FPPP logo for approved marketing purposes and acknowledgement on the FPPP website. The materials offered will vary based on investment level.
Project administration and accounting are being overseen by American Farmland Trust (AFT), a 501(c)(3) non-profit farmland protection organization established in 1980. Project partners include American Farmland Trust (AFT), Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC), Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Entomology, and Kieser & Associates (K&A).
David Chen is the Project Scientist as Kieser & Associates, Environmental Science and Engineering. [email protected]