Growing in the right direction: Grebel’s pollinator garden

August 9, 2023 | News | Volume 27 Issue 16D
Tim Saari | Communications Department Writer at Conrad Grebel University College
Eva Booker (left) painting the pollinator garden's picnic table with student volunteers Anna Miller-Buza and Claire Treacy. (Photo by Margaret Gissing)

On a bright morning in April, Eva Booker and a team of student volunteers rolled out a 25-foot-wide tarp across Grebel’s front lawn in preparation for the College’s recent green initiative: a pollinator garden.   

“The garden now contains fifteen different native flowering plants and grasses divided into eighteen sections of the round garden,” explained Eva Booker, a Grebel student and coordinator of the pollinator garden. Eva chose each plant carefully, ensuring they provided both food and habitat for pollinator species. “I researched ahead of time and now being able to grow the plants is very exciting,” Eva commented. 

Although groundbreaking didn’t take place until May, the pollinator garden has been a long time in the making. Two years ago, Grebel formed the Green Team: a group of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to helping the College become a more climate-friendly campus. Grebel has recently set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 35% by the year 2030. The College has already started planning and integrating green practices, most of which take place behind the scenes. 

In the fall of 2022, the Green Team began brainstorming options for something tangible that Grebel could create, showing commitment to environmental stewardship. By the end of the discussion, the seeds were planted for a garden project. “A pollinator garden looks attractive, helps the environment, and makes a statement that ‘we care, and we’re doing something!’” added Paul Penner, Director of Operations and Chair of the Green Team. 

It is Grebel’s hope that the garden will also attract creatures that are not pollinators—specifically, Grebelites. In the center of the garden, there is a decorated picnic table that can seat up to eight fresh-air-seeking students. The garden has already drawn volunteers from across Grebel to help with activities ranging from fundraising to planting wild bergamot in the rain. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing how Grebel has come together and shown its collective enthusiasm about the project through volunteering and spending lots of time out there,” Eva shared. 

“The pollinator garden is—in a way—a metaphor for Grebel’s faith community,” noted Chapel Committee member and student Hannah den Bak. She added, “Grebel is like a garden of different faith backgrounds; a mosaic of traditions, beliefs, and values.” In this way, the garden extends far beyond the 10x10 meter patch of tilled soil, vibrant flowers, and swaying grasses. The pollinator garden reflects Grebel’s image and reveals its roots: the values grounding the College and what Grebel is growing towards. 

Eva Booker (left) painting the pollinator garden's picnic table with student volunteers Anna Miller-Buza and Claire Treacy. (Photo by Margaret Gissing)

Black-eyed Susans growing in Grebel's pollinator garden. (Photo by Tim Saari)

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