Project launched for expansion of observatory's Pollinator Pathway

NEW MILFORD — The McCarthy Observatory’s garden volunteer team is launching a project to make all of Galileo’s Garden at New Milford High School into a native New England pollinator habitat.

The team built an initial pollinator habitat on part of the property in 2020, and achieved certification by both pollinator pathways and the National Wildlife Foundation.

The learning from that success motivated the team to plan upgrades to the entire garden with proven native products to make a haven for pollinators, whose populations have been greatly diminished in recent years.

The strong motivation for this project is to help in reviving the monarch butterfly population by providing a habitat for their entire complicated life cycle. Beyond that, the design includes habitat for many species of birds, bees and butterflies that are being threatened by loss of habitat. Reestablishing this pollinator habitat is vital to the entire food chain, in ways that science is finally gaining real understanding, according to an announcement.

“Doing our part and having the whole region involved is a strong focus, and we are excited to be substantial participants. Our goal is to expand on the already existing certified Pollinator Pathways garden with heritage native plantings that are proven to support pollinators, making the whole garden area a habitat for native birds, bees and butterflies,” the announcement said.

In keeping with the guidelines and requirements for certification, all the garden beds will be re-established with a much wider variety of “native” pollinator plants, new walking paths built, and an upgraded and managed watering system deployed.

Awareness is rising about the rapid decline of species of butterflies, bird species, and pollinating bees, and the observatory aims to be a local focal point on how to help reverse this decline. It has defined the new plants they want to grow, the plants that are already successful, and the many that are not viable as native pollinator plants and must be replaced.

This is a three year project, given the maturation period for perennials, but the full garden can be completely planted in 2021, with sufficient funding.

The observatory is looking for volunteer help from the community, including students. The local team of Sustainable CT volunteers were a helpful local partner, with pollinator habitats as a high priority in their work efforts, the announcement said.

"The Town of New Milford is excited for the expansion of the pollinator meadow at the McCarthy Observatory that will be a habitat for pollinators, including bees and butterflies, that will be an educational showpiece for students and residents alike,” New Milford Mayor Pete Bass said.

To volunteer, email mccarthy.observatory @gmail.com. For more information, visit patronicity.com/mccarthypollinators.