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ESF garden gives bees, butterflies a boost on their way out of town

A sign sitting in a garden at SUNY ESF says "pollinator habitat coming soon."
Matt Hassan
SUNY ESF sign says "pollinator habitat coming soon" on Sept. 28, 2022.

A new garden at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is not just for showing off flowers.

The garden near Bray Hall is filled with late-blooming plants native to Central New York. It’s part of SUNY ESF’s efforts in the Bee Campus USA program, a coalition of schools creating more native pollinator habitats and reducing pesticide use. ESF Pollinator Ecologist Molly Jacobson said the initiative is vital for cities like Syracuse.

"In suburbia, or in urban environments, usually, it's a lot of non-native plants," Jacobson said. "There's just not a lot of resources in general, or there might be a lot of pesticide use. So, there's not really a lot of safe habitat for them and that makes it hard for them to survive."

Jacobson said building more of these gardens encourages pollinators to come to the area.

"Creating more habitat patches like this, even if they're small, is really going to support more native pollinators because the more patches that we create, the more connected they become, and then you've got before you know it, a whole swap of habitat that spans throughout a whole city and that can support all different kinds of species," Jacobson said.

She adds that making the environment more friendly to bees and other insects will positively impact the food chain, providing more food for birds. Jacobson invited homeowners to think about growing a native garden on their property. She said it’s relatively low maintenance to do so.

"It's really easy to plant them and take care of them," Jacobson said. "They're more drought resistant it provides you with better erosion control. They don't need pesticides on them, they don't need fertilizers, and they're more adapted to the cold."

SUNY ESF offers astep-by-step guide on how to turn your yard into a native garden or meadow.

Matt Hassan is a senior broadcast and digital journalism student at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is minoring in History and sport management. Matt grew up in Port Washington, New York on Long Island. He creates print, radio, and television stories almost daily on a wide range of topics, including hard news, profiles, and sports. Matt hopes to pursue a career as either a reporter or producer of news.