Creating a Pollinator Paradise
Every fall semester, the third year Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) students complete a community engagement project in Dr. Karen Landman’s design studio class. In fall 2014, the undergraduate students had the opportunity to work with Woolwich Dairy’s industrial-park property near Orangeville, Ontario. The students were asked to apply their design skills and creativity in order to transform 4 acres of former farmland into a ‘pollinator paradise’.
The goal was to design the site to benefit both people and pollinators – not just honeybees but also native bees, other insects and birds. Along with a desire to help pollinators, Woolwich Dairy is expressing their company values through a particular management approach to their land. Woolwich Dairy’s vision for their pollinator paradise is three-fold: 1) to create a haven for bees and other pollinators; 2) to make use of the site for an employee community garden and company picnics; and, 3) to use the pollinator paradise as a resource for teaching local schoolchildren about the importance of pollinators for ecological health and food production. In addition, Dr. Landman hopes that this will inspire Woolwich Dairy’s industrial-park neighbours to consider how they can contribute to pollinator health on their properties.
To achieve the client’s vision, co-instructors Dr. Landman and Stasia Stempski encouraged the students to use native plants where possible and to consider a full season of bloom/forage for pollinators, along with other habitat considerations. Paul Kelly of the University’s Honeybee Research Centre gave a talk to the students to help them think about habitat needs. Through this project, Dr. Landman hopes that her students will “find an opportunity to add pollinator habitat into every project they undertake.” She expressed that community engagement projects are more than academic exercises in that they help students to understand “their role in improving our ecology” and how their work can “benefit the greater landscape context.”
On January 28th, 2015, the top twenty designs will be presented to Woolwich Dairy in Orangeville. The best ideas will then be developed into a plan of action to help turn student visions of a pollinator paradise into a reality.
BLA student, Michelle Peeter's design of a pollinator paradise for Woolwich Dairy