Love My Neighbor! At Work On The Ground | The Millvale Pollinator Garden

Oct 31, 2018

A Love My Neighbor! grant supported the creation of a Pollinator Garden at the Gardens of Millvale, which will become a sustainable community resource for residents and a reliable food source for native pollinators

  • Oreen Cohen, Donna Pearson, and Denise Rudar stand in front of the finished mural at the Millvale Pollinator Planting Party.

On Saturday, October 20th, volunteers and master gardeners from Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County and the Shaler Garden  Club gathered for a planting party at The Gardens of Millvale. From Evening Primrose, to Mistflower, to Bee Balm, the group planted a number of native, pollinator-friendly plants and shrubs that bloom throughout the year, guaranteeing a steady food source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Donna Pearson, a Millvale resident decided to apply for a Love My Neighbor! Grant while she was enrolled in the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Pittsburgh, working specifically on horticulture-as-therapy workshops as part of a geriatric fellowship. She wanted to turn her love of gardening and her knowledge of the benefits of green space into a resource for the community and environment. After meeting with Denise Rudar at the Gardens of Millvale, the two decided that a pollinator-friendly garden would fit in with the Gardens’ long-term permaculture plan and would help support their local ecosystem and successful food production in the community gardens. 

Photo credit: Oreen Cohen

In addition to new plants, the Gardens also received a bee-themed mural on its hoop house. Artist Oreen Cohen volunteered her time to paint a beautiful scene of bees, flowers, and honey combs.

“Like bees working together to make honey- we worked together to create new connections, new gardening partnerships, shared knowledge and shared labor. It’s really a beautiful thing that still resonates in the garden when I walk through every morning.” – Oreen Cohen, Muralist

Leveraging another Millvale resident’s Love My Neighbor! project that is focused on community outreach*, Donna wants the pollinator garden to stand as a year-round educational resource for conservation groups, teachers, and families to be able to demonstrate and discuss important ecological topics. She is also working to obtain official pollinator-friendly certification. Once this happens, the garden will get a special sign and be added to a map that displays designated pollinator gardens in the area.

My hope is that residents can learn what a native pollinator garden looks like, how it changes through the seasons, and see the connection that insects and pollination have in vegetable gardens and the ecosystem.”  – Donna Pearson, Love My Neighbor! Grantee

*Jackie Geis | Love My Neighbor! Grant | Gardens of Millvale Community Outreach

There is growing interest in Millvale to learn more and be part of the Gardens of Millvale. To reach more residents, a group of Millvale residents, led by Jackie Geis, have received funding through Love My Neighbor! to design and print pamphlets with information about the gardens. There are a few events this spring that offer residents a great opportunity to grow healthy foods and connect with neighbors. With the purchase of lightweight indoor/outdoor tables that fold, the project team will be able to set up display at events and easily transport them. The tables will be utilized multiple times throughout the year. Another goal is to provide healthy food choices for senior citizens and youth and everyone in between. Some senior citizens that live in the community find the cost of produce prohibitive and simply cannot carry heavy bags back to their apartment. Learning this issue, the project team plans to start a twice monthly low cost market in the community room at the senior apartment building. Additionally, the project team received funding for a garden cart that can help move the produce to the apartment building.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA