Save the Environment of Moorestown jumps into spring

Volunteers prep pollinator garden after winter season.

Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM) held a work session at Swedes Run Fields’ pollinator garden on April 2 to prepare the area for spring. 

Wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels were provided, and the township donated 10 yards of mulch. Goals for the project included edging, weeding and mulching the garden and paths.

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According to stemonline.org, STEM received a grant for plants from the Xerces Society, a nonprofit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. The plants were provided by Pinelands Nursery and STEM was one of 46 organizations who received them.

STEM volunteers installed a pollinator garden last June that contains more than 1,200 plants of 10 native species – with black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers and early goldenrods covering more than 4,000 square feet – around the Swede Run Barn.

“We broke the garden into nine zones, and we had individuals who signed up … (We) kind of called it ‘own a zone,’ so they would take full responsibility for keeping it watered and weeded, and that was particularly important,” said STEM President Mark Pensiero. 

“Last year, the garden was just getting started and we planted, I think, about 1,400 plants,” he added. “And they were tiny, little 2-inch plugs. It was a lot to get those things established, and watering was critical during the summer.”

Swedes Run Fields is one of 13 preserved open spaces in Moorestown and it helps enhance the quality of water in Swede Run, as well as providing opportunities for wildlife habitat.

“As we get ready for the next growing season, for the spring, we want to put some effort into getting the garden ready to go,” Pensiero noted. “The real hope is that these plants made it through the hot summer. (It) was really tough for them to get established, (and) most of them did.”

“We expect them to do even better this year.”

Pensiero described the garden’s progress since inception.

“We had a lot of success last year with bringing in butterflies, particularly Monarchs,” he said, “They start to come in in August, September, and we had lots of Monarchs at the site.”

“It kind of shows that with the right kind of plantings, people can really have an impact, a positive impact, on pollinators which are so important to the ecosystem,” Pensiero added.

Pensiero said spring updates for the garden will include a bench to overlook the garden and the planting of two native trees.

“I think it’s one of the prettiest landscapes in the town, looking out over that beautiful stone building out over the field,” he said. “It’s just going to get better and better with time.”

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