Friday, April 22, 2016

Hamilton Monarch Awards to recognize gardeners planting naturalized, pollinator-friendly gardens.


For immediate release
April 22nd, 2016
                                           
Hamilton Monarch Awards to recognize gardeners planting naturalized, pollinator-friendly gardens.

Hamilton— Four local environmental groups have partnered together to recognize gardens and gardeners for their contribution towards a bio-diverse, sustainable environment.

The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project (a project of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and Environment Hamilton), in partnership with local gardeners at the Crown Point Garden Club and staff at the Royal Botanical Gardens have created the Monarch Awards, an annual awards program that celebrates sustainable gardens as a way to help increase pollinator populations. Close to 75% of all flowering plants depending on pollinators such as wild bees, butterflies, small birds and beneficial insects to move pollen grains from plant to plant. When it comes to our food, one out of every 3 bites of food is pollinator-dependent. But pollinators are on the decline.

According to State of Ontario’s Biodiversity reporting portal, there are many potential drivers that affect wild pollinator abundance and diversity, and different environmental drivers rarely act in isolation. Among the most important drivers are land-use change with the consequent loss and fragmentation of habitats, increasing pesticide application (e.g., neonicotinoids) and environmental pollution, decreased resource diversity, invasive species, the spread of pathogens, and climate change.

“Little attention is paid to gardeners who work hard to plant habitat and garden sustainably. Yet these are activities that benefit a very serious conservation issue,” says Jen Baker, Project Coordinator for the Pollinator Paradise Project.

Planting for nature is an area that has been largely overlooked by existing awards programs. “There needed to be an alternative award that would demonstrate appreciation and value for these spaces,” says Bev Wagar, Crown Point resident, gardener and mastermind behind the idea.

The awards are being promoted in Wards 1 through 4 for the inaugural year—since the Pollinator Paradise project has undertaken pollinator habitat plantings in each of these wards and have resident and Councillor support.  The idea is to expand the Monarch Awards initiative beyond these lower city wards in the years to come, which will mean more naturalized spaces and more sustainable practices being followed, helping pollinators thrive and building  Hamilton’s resiliency in the face of climate change.

The initiative has enlisted the support of expert judges including Sean James (Fern Ridge Landscaping & Eco-consulting). Sean is a graduate of Niagara Parks, a public speaker, frequent guest on radio gardening shows, writer, teacher and environmentalist. Also on the judging team is business owner and environmentalist, Lyn Hanna-Folkes. Lyn has designed and installed dozens of naturalization projects from wetlands to prairies and has helped to maintain naturalized gardens. She established the “Christie Prairie” at Christie Conservation Area working with volunteers and the fire department. Read more here

Gardeners in Wards 1 to 4 are invited to apply. Entry deadline for the awards is midnight Sunday June 19, 2016 with the selection of finalists happening between June 20 and 26. Judges’ site visits are scheduled during the week of Monday June 27 and Sunday July 3, 2016. A winner and four finalists will be chosen based on judges’ scores over the six criteria categories which include soil and water management, native plant choices, materials/hardscaping and thought given to cultural practices, and aesthetics.

For more information about the awards an on how to apply visit http://monarchawardshamilton.org/

Follow monarch awards on twitter.



-------------30----------------------

Media inquiries:  Beatrice Ekoko- Environment Hamilton (Hamilton Pollinators Paradise Project).
EMAIL: bekoko@environmenthamilton.org  
TEL: (905) 549-0900                                                                                                    
Jen Baker – Hamilton Naturalists Club
TEL: (905) 523-3339
EMAIL: land@hamiltonnature.org