Though butterflies would win the beauty pageants and bees would dominate prizes for work ethic, all manner of insects are important — and all depend on flowering plants — to ensure the circle of life remains unbroken. An easy way to promote the resiliency of our local ecosystems is to increase the population of native plants. With this in mind, and thanks to a grant from Rotary International, Southern Highlands Reserve partnered with the Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest and the city of Brevard in late April to install a new attraction for all to enjoy: a pollinator garden at Brevard Dog Park on Ecusta Road.
This is the first time Rotary International has offered environmental grants after adding the environment as its seventh area of focus in summer of 2020. Rotary’s other long-standing pillars are: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies.
Twenty volunteers, including Brevard Mayor Maureen Copelof, gathered on April 20 to plant native trees, shrubs and perennials along the perimeter of the dog park. SHR Executive Director Kelly Holdbrooks worked with two other Rotarians, Joan Van Orman and Martine Stolk, over 13 months to find a project, write and submit a grant, and then finally implement the project. Grant leaders originally proposed restoring the streambank of a historic black community park called Rosenwald in Brevard. However, due to permitting and other delays, the streambank restoration was not completed in time for the grant deadline. The grant team reached out to Mayor Copelof, and with the help of Chelsea Preciado, who designed the dog park, the grant was shifted to the pollinator garden.
The project required more than 100 volunteer hours to complete, with plants sourced from New Leaf Garden Market and a celebration hosted by Blue Zones Project on May 1. Community partners working together to build ecosystem resiliency is critical to our neighborhoods, cities, and world so we might leave a better planet for future generations. Thanks to all the volunteers working tirelessly to better the health of our community and contribute to a stronger planet.