STEM seeks community help to create pollinator garden

Organization will plant at Swede Run Fields.

Photo courtesy of Mark Pensiero. Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM), is planning to create a pollinator garden near the old stone building which is opposite the Swede Run Fields Dog Park.

Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM) always looks for ways to preserve and beautify Moorestown’s natural landscape.

STEM President Mark Pensiero is currently working closely with the township to convert the former farming site portion of Swede Run Fields into something beautiful. 

But just across the street, near the old stone building opposite the Swede Run Fields Dog Park, Pensiero and his colleagues at STEM are planning another project, and they’d like other Moorestown residents to get in on the action. STEM was awarded a pollinator kit from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation containing around 1,000 plants. The goal is to bring in volunteers to help with soil preparation, planting, mulching, watering and weeding of the site.

“This is going to be a big project, with the need for many volunteers,” Pensiero said.

The kit’s 1,000 plant “plugs,” including common Milkweed, purple Coneflower, black-eyed Susans, Little bluestem and others. According to Pensiero, the kits  focus on improving the habitat for pollinators, particularly for Monarch butterflies,  whose numbers have dropped off significantly in the last couple of years.

The Xerces Society got on Pensiero’s radar back in January. Someone at the United States Fish and Wildlife (with whom Pensiero is working on his other Swede Run project) sent him a note that the organization was giving out pollinator kits. The foundation’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators.  So Pensiero applied for a kit. He got word the kit would arrive on a Friday, and he put the word out to the Moorestown community that STEM needed help tilling the soil. The very next day, 17 people showed up to help remove rocks.

The 1,000 plants allow STEM to create an approximately 4,000-square-foot pollinator garden. The plants will be picked up at the end of May and planted on June 5 and 6. Pensiero is seeking volunteers for that effort.

Once planting is done, STEM will need volunteers to lend a hand throughout the summer so the area stays watered. The hope to divide the garden into areas  and have volunteers “own a zone,” meaning he or she commits to watering that area. Each zone will need approximately 1 inch of water a week.

The site will require some degree of maintenance in the summer, but after that,  won’t need anything in the fall or winter. The following spring, the site may need some mulching and weeding to ensure the native plants have an opportunity to grow. 

Pensiero expects it’ll probably take somewhere between two to three years for the site to become fully established, but he’s excited by the prospect of what it will look like. 

“It will be a really beautiful backdrop,” he enthused. “It’s a good opportunity to educate people about pollinators.”

To learn more about the project or to volunteer, contact Pensiero via email at markpensiero99@gmail.com