Monday, 29 June 2015

Welcome back!

We've had a very productive weekend! Our head Garden Coordinator from last year, Briana, was here and tagged along on a milkweed hunt. After following the waterfront trails and crossing the walking bridge, we've discovered that there is common milkweed everywhere! We also came across Dogbane, a very similar plant that is not useful to the monarch, and we took some pictures of that as well. We've taken a bunch of pictures so that you can have a look as well if you're out and about for Canada Day!

Briana found the common milkweed!

There's plenty of milkweed along the waterfront!
This was near the art gallery!


Common milkweed mixed in with grass

Common milkweed with flower heads

Dogbane looks very similar to milkweed
Common milkweed has large leaves

Common milkweed (left) and Dogbane (right) leaves

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Mighty Monarchs at Greener Village

This year has been an incredibly exciting year already, from the new greenhouse fronts to the planting season being well underway, but one of the things we're most excited to introduce is our Mighty Monarch Raise and Release program.


Butterfly house before cleaning
Many members of the Fredericton community remember the butterfly house which was previously run by Green Village Nurseries. After many years of hoping and waiting, we're finally able to re-vamp the space and turn it into an ideal Monarch raising habitat.We'd definitely like to thank our partners at Nature NB, as well as the Environmental Trust Fund for making this a reality. Our goal this year is to raise 400 Monarch butterflies, tag them, and have them released for their 4,000 km journey to Mexico where they will hibernate for the winter. Several steps have already been taken to make this goal a reality.

First, we cleaned out the butterfly house with a huge amount of help from the Sunrise Rotary Club and the Douglas Street Baptist Church. There was a lot of overgrown space in the structure, as well as old torn screening, wood, and thousands of staples. As of Wednesday the 24th the space has been completely cleaned out and is ready to be screened-in (1400 feet to go!). To help screen in the space we're asking community members to bring in any old screens (in or out of the frame is fine) as well as small aquariums that aren't being used. The small
After cleaning!
aquariums will be used to house the smaller monarch caterpillars until they're strong enough to move into their outdoor permanent enclosures. We'd like to send out a very special thank-you to the Sunrise Rotary Club for building and sponsoring the permanent habitats which will be used every year.

In addition to the work that was done on the greenhouses we've also been raising 600 milkweed plants (read about those here) to feed our caterpillars and to provide seeds to the community. We will be keeping our milkweed seed-saving program going every year in the hopes that the Fredericton community will plant their own milkweed and increase the natural habitat of the Monarch. Our Greener Village flowerbeds have also been filled with butterfly-friendly flowers to feed any early-arriving Monarchs and to feed our own butterflies that have been raised on the grounds.


Waystation signs are on their way!
Finally, we've been recognized as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch (check the program out here) which means that we've met the requirements to be a suitable Monarch butterfly habitat. Greener Village is proud to be an Extra Large habitat, meaning that our total butterfly area is just under 5000 square feet. We're very happy to be a part of this program and are eager to share the details of this with the community!

For more information on the Monarch and its status as a species of special concern, have a look here. This is an amazing species that could be eliminated at any time, and New Brunswick is crucial to its sustainability.

Happy gardening!

Brandi


Milkweed at Greener Village

We love milkweed!

Our Tropical milkweed
At Greener Village we’re currently raising both varieties of milkweed that are common to New Brunswick as well as Tropical milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica). We are raising both Swamp and Common milkweed to use for a seed saving and distribution program, so that we can give community members milkweed seeds to bring home and plant. Having community members plant locally sustainable milkweed will allow for a wider distribution of Monarchs and will help to offset the decline in milkweed that is occurring from pesticide use and land development. As Greener Village has a large area of wetland on the southern border of the complex, we will also be planting swamp milkweed in the hopes that it will establish itself and provide our returning Monarchs with a place to call home.

We’ve planted Tropical milkweed mainly as a food source for our raise-and-release program as it grows quickly with thick leaves. We will be saving seeds from our tropical plants, but they will not be introduced into the natural areas of the complex as we believe they won’t survive the winter. We’re still very excited about our tropical milkweed as it’s begun to put out flower buds!

How you can help:

A major part of our restoration plan is mapping out existing Monarch habitats in New Brunswick and making sure they aren’t disturbed, or are only disturbed after the Monarch has migrated south again. We need the community to help us identify patches of common and swamp milkweed (find our identifying post here) in the Fredericton area, or (ideally) all over New Brunswick. The Monarch is quickly approaching the Fredericton area and we want to make sure they have a place to lay their eggs! If you come across a patch of milkweed, please snap some pictures and send them to monarch@greenervillage.org, along with information about where you saw it and any location information (mile markers, proximity to the river, etc.).

Thanks so much and happy gardening!


Brandi
Happy Thursday!

As our Monarch butterfly program gets underway I'll be sharing lots of information about the Monarch Butterfly! Today’s post is about a plant that is integral to the survival of the Monarch in New Brunswick (and elsewhere): Milkweed (or the Asclepias family of plants). We’ll talk a little bit about the plant’s importance to the monarch and its identifying features (in NB) today, and over the next little while we’ll also talk about our milkweed at Greener Village, and how you can help!

Importance to the Monarch

A Monarch on Common milkweed
(Photo from bigblogofgardening.com)
The milkweed family of plants are the only plants that a monarch butterfly can lay its eggs on and are the only food source for the Monarch caterpillar. The plants provide a place to lay eggs, food for all of the caterpillar stages of life, and they give the monarch the toxicity that keeps its predators away. Milkweed is super useful for the Monarch, but it is also a major factor in the Monarch’s declining numbers.

Over the years Milkweed has been steadily eradicated as it is considered a noxious (poisonous) weed because of its danger to cattle. It has been excessively sprayed with pesticides and actively removed from much of its natural habitat. While it is understandable that milkweed will be removed from pastures and feeding fields, milkweed can grow in a number of areas that would not be accessible to cattle including power corridors, highways, abandoned fields, and along undeveloped patches of waterfront. It is possible for milkweed to be grown in parks as well with attentive cultivation, and milkweed is a beautiful backyard plant that can be kept with minimal yearly maintenance.

Identifying features

The two types of milkweed found in New Brunswick are Swamp milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata) and Common milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca). Both are considered invasive, although they can be kept in gardens as long as attention is paid to them.

Swamp Milkweed
Swamp milkweed can be found in wetland areas around the Saint John River, in flooded plains, and around ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water. Swamp milkweed is a perennial plant (meaning it returns each year) and it is most noted for its bundles of pink flowers that it produces over the summer, mostly in August. Swamp milkweed has pairs of leaves that sit opposite each other and it grows between four to six feet tall. Swamp milkweed has long, thin leaves with a definitive point. The flowers cluster at the top of the plant.



Common milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata) is found across New Brunswick along highways, in abandoned fields, and in clearings in woodland areas. Unlike swamp milkweed, common milkweed has shorter, rounded leaves that are not strongly pointed. The flowers of common milkweed produce bundles off the main stem of the plant, and are a dull pink or greenish-white, and the plant stands
Common Milkweed
between four and five feet tall in clusters. Like swamp milkweed, common milkweed is a perennial plant that spreads both through seeds and root clusters.



Milkweed gets its common name from the white substance inside its stem when broken, which has the consistency of milk. In addition, milkweed creates a white, silky “fluff” when it’s seeding which can make it easily identifiable. Collecting these seeds is a great way to bring some milkweed home for your own backyard monarch habitat, so keep an eye out! 

Happy Gardening!

Brandi


Welcome Back!

Hello all!

Welcome back to our garden blog, and thanks for checking in with us as we enter our third year as an operational community garden space! As you can see we've made some changes, but for the time being you can still access our previous blog here. Planting is well underway with a lot of exciting news!

Our community gardens are looking fantastic!
First off, we’d like to thank the Fredericton Community for being so involved with our community garden project. The community garden portion of our space is over 90% planted by community members who use our Food Bank services, and many of the garden plots are already well on their way to producing a successful crop. So far we’ve seen everything from leafy greens and brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) to flowerbeds of gladiolus. We’re very excited to see what our community members will harvest, and we’re so glad to see so much dedication already this year. Our volunteers have been fantastic and have taken loads of work off the garden team’s shoulders already, and we wouldn’t be so far along in our schedule if it wasn’t for their hard work and dedication.

Brandon and Jordan have been busy transplanting!
With a new season also comes new staff, and we’d like to introduce our new Garden Coordinators, Brandon and Jordan! Both are with us as part of the summer student work program, and they’re learning fast and proving to be very hard workers. So far they’ve built some lovely beds for our butterfly project, completed a LOT of work in the greenhouses, and have been avidly learning from our returning Garden Coordinator- Brandi (Me!). I’ll be heading up our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project this year. Please make sure to stop in and introduce yourselves to us if you happen to be in the area, and don’t be shy about asking any questions you may have.

Our greenhouses this year are going to be the space where we do most of our planting for our U-pick program. Last year the U-pick program sent home over $6,700 in fresh, organic produce through our Food Bank distribution and we hope to increase that number this year. Last year we were working with two greenhouse spaces and a number of raised beds in the community garden. This year we’ve added a third greenhouse and a very large bed on the south east side of the building which will account for the majority of our planting space. We’re very excited to see what we’ll be able to produce, and to increase the variety of fresh produce available for our Food Bank. Right now on the planting roster we have: lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens, carrots, peas, string beans, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, three varieties of pepper, eggplants, a wide variety of herbs, kale, and spinach. We haven’t decided on our fall crops yet, but we’ll possibly be introducing turnips, beets, and rutabaga. Currently only the leafy greens are available (lettuce and beet greens mainly) but the rest of the plants are well on their way to being productive for the end of July/August. We also have renovated the fronts of all four greenhouses and they’re looking fantastic! This was only possible due to the contributions made by the Nashwaaksis Lions Club and Salesforce to whom we’re incredibly grateful.

This year we’re very excited to finally be able to begin our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Program, making use of the butterfly house that was existing on the property from the past owner. The Monarch Butterfly is currently a species of Special Concern, and we hope to help the Monarch recover and thrive in New Brunswick through a raise-and-release program. There will be a number of activities centered around this especially as we hope to raise and release around 400 Monarch butterflies this year! We’ll be blogging about this program quite a bit, so keep an eye out! Also keep an eye on our instagram account: @greener_village.


Thanks so much for stopping in, and keep growing!


The Garden Team