TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Open Space and Recreation Committee announced that it has received a $2,000 grant to fund pollinator kits for planting in the community. Part of the Tewksbury Cultural Council grant program, the award is administered through the Massachusetts Cultural Council which partners with communities to fund arts, humanities and science initiatives that benefit the community in a non-discriminatory manner in accordance with priorities set by the local council. This year, Tewksbury received $13,100 in grant funding.
The Tewksbury OSRC has been working diligently to complete the town’s Open Space and Recreation plan; part of the town’s master plan which must be submitted to the Commonwealth. Completion of the plan opens opportunities for Tewksbury to apply for state and federal grants which benefit the community.
In an effort to foster more awareness and participation in the open space and recreation realm, the committee has established walking trails, built boardwalks, organized public presentations, conducted guided trail walks and distributed trail maps for residents to access and enjoy, free of charge.
Jenni Balch-Kenny, OSRC co-chair said, “I think the project is beneficial to the community in multiple ways. It is a way for the community to be involved in a part of open spaces in their neighborhoods. It’s also a way that we can give back to nature by creating these natural pollinator gardens for the birds and the bees; to give back to the environment.”
Plant habitats are often lost during construction and development of formerly undisturbed areas and alteration to the natural habitat affects biodiversity.
According to Chris Mullins of the OSRC, “local wildlife, bees, birds and butterflies have a relationship with native plant life. They rely on them for food, shelter and nesting.”
The pollinator kits, available from the Native Plant Trust (formerly the New England Wildflower Society), will be planted along trails and open space parcels in Tewksbury during the summer months. The kits contain plugs which have a diversity of plants that support at least five species of butterflies or moths.
The plugs give more of a chance for establishment of these plants with limited need for water and tending. Native pollinators, according to the NPT, include moths, butterflies, bats, bees, and birds, all of whom are experiencing habitat loss and subsequently species loss. By providing native plants for native pollinators to feed upon, the ecosystem is strengthened and supported.
Mullins said, “many plants available in nurseries are often from other parts of the world. Although they can still be beautiful, as foreign plants they’re not always ideal for our ecological system. They can become invasive or take resources from local plant life.”
The committee will announce planting dates and locations later in the spring.
Christian Panasuk, chairperson of the Tewksbury Cultural Council said, “The Tewksbury Cultural Council is happy to support this local effort to impact the environment and beauty of the trails and open space in Tewksbury. During a survey of town residents this past autumn, we received some valuable feedback. Comments included support for funding of the beautification of the recreation and open spaces in town. The OSRC presented the grant request for the pollinator kits during our public meeting in mid-November. We were excited to help with partial funding of the project this year, and hope the committee will apply again to complete the remainder of the original goals.”
For more information about the Tewksbury Cultural Council and grant opportunities, email email@example.com.