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Nevis Women's Club breaks ground for pollinator garden

A project two years in the making will provide valuable habitat for butterflies and bees.

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Nevis Women’s Club and community members who gathered for the groundbreaking were, front, from left, Milica Stanfel, Judy Anderson, Kathy Carney, Ginny Peterson. Middle row: Stacey Skinness, Melissa Zincke, Gail Hermann, Sue Gray, Debbie Hass and Nancy Lewis. Back row: Dawn Veit, Jan Phillips, Barbara Mack, Jody Pribyl, Tracy Ganley, Terri Rohling, Judy Hensel, Dawn Rouse, Linda Strong and Joey Kaseman.

A pollinator garden near the Nevis Visitor Center will provide habitat for butterflies and bees next summer.

Nevis Women’s Club members celebrated with a groundbreaking Tuesday and will be planting some bulbs in the garden this fall, but most planting will be done in the spring.

The club raised around $9,000, about a third of that from grants. Community sponsors were the Nevis Fire Department, Northwoods Bank, TruStar Federal Credit Union, Itasca-Mantrap Co-op and Park Rapids Community Fund and with donations were responsible for the majority of funds.

“With strategic planning and fundraising, it took us two years to get to this moment,” club treasurer Linda Strong said. “I’m so excited to see this happen!”

Club members were at their pink tent near the Heartland Trail for several hours Tuesday, handing out hot apple cider, goodies and brochures. “We made $75 just in people driving or biking up and giving us donations,” Strong said.

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The General Federation of Women's Clubs is one of the largest women's clubs dedicated to enhancing communities through volunteer service. The Nevis chapter has 26 members. Most are retired and bring diverse skills to the club.

“We’re out there doing things, and I think it’s great,” Strong said. “People our age want to be active and busy. It’s great to have new members join, take ideas and run with them.”

Flying W Gardens plotted out the area for the garden and prepared the site, using a Bobcat and making paths around the perimeter with an edging machine. Large boulders were incorporated into the landscaping, and a split-rail fence was added to protect the garden from snowmobilers.

Club member Kathy Carney was the grant writer for the project.

She said the pollinator garden will positively affect the environment and beautify Nevis.

“Our goal is to integrate education into the understanding how pollinators contribute to our environment by using signage in the garden and bringing kids from the school to the garden once plants are growing,” she said.

Smaller signs will identify plants, with a larger sign explaining the benefits of pollinators. Master gardener Sue Gray will assist with selecting the best plants to thrive in the garden.

Local butterfly expert John Weber said, in the case of pollinators, ignorance is not bliss.

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“Some people still don’t know that pollinators are so beneficial in dozens and dozens of ways,” he said. “They are a very important part of the scheme of things in nature. Crops people depend on need pollinators.”

Weber said education begins with the children. “Hopefully, with the proximity to the Heartland Trail, they will be exposed to this knowledge and appreciate why bees and butterflies are important and go on to learn even more.”

Weber said area residents should reconsider mowing and spraying pesticides on their property because natural plants provide habitat for butterflies and bees.

“It becomes a butterfly desert, or even worse, if you use herbicide and pesticide spraying, which are totally negative for pollinators,” he said.

“People consider what’s ‘normal,’ so if they see flowers that pollinators are using maybe they will consider including those in their yard and realize they don’t have to have a big expanse of mowed lawn. If you just have a lawn, you’re not going to see the pollinators, because there’s nothing for them to nectar on. But if you see something like this pollinator garden with bees and butterflies using it, hopefully that will increase people’s knowledge of the great nature that surrounds us. With more natural plants, there will be less time spent mowing and more of your life to enjoy,” Weber said.

In the future, the Nevis Women’s Club hopes to work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to develop a pollinator highway along the Heartland Trail in the Nevis area.

Anyone interested in donating money, benches, flowers, planters to the pollinator garden may call fundraiser chairperson Jody Pribyl at 763-331-2043.

Carney said the club welcomes new members.

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“We have so many people retiring to our community, and they have worked in high level jobs and have a lot of talent,” she said. “What they want to be doing is giving back with a service focus.”

Call Strong at 218-255-3821 for membership information.

Related Topics: NEVIS
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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