Blueberries – for us and for nature

I believe that there are two types of plants in the world which are worth having in all of our schools: 1) native plants to create and reinforce a “sense of place” and 2) edible plants to ensure this connection “to place” is meaningful and delicious! Over the course of the spring we had the opportunity to make changes to the Riverstone landscape to make it more edible for the wildlife and significantly increase the possibility of harvesting some berries on campus! Using vouchers we earned by removing non-native yew bushes (read more about it) we were able to buy a blueberry bush for every lower school classroom (well almost every classroom – the pre-K actually got strawberries!).

We noticed some skepticism and push-back from the school populace when we first installed the Pollinator Garden and needed to normalize and familiarize the school with all the many types and species of pollinators there are. So each class got a blueberry bush with budding flowers, and it was their job to keep it watered, watch the flowers develop and be on the lookout for any visiting pollinators. The students were really excited about the ideas of blueberry fruit production and eagerly waited for a pollinating insect to visit the flowers to ensure that fertilization and therefore berry production occurred! From this lesson we are reminded how important facilitated pollination is to our food supply.

Once the weather was nice enough to head outside, each class got to go to the Pollinator Garden and Bioswale with Blake and Ben to plant their fostered blueberry bush and wish it luck providing food for us and food for nature! We explained that the deer would probably browse on the branches in the winter and the birds might compete with us for the berries, but that providing those food sources in the wildland-urban interface for the birds and bees means that Riverstone has that much less of an impact on the habitat it displaces and that is something we can all feel good about – even if it does mean sharing some of our prized (potential) blueberry harvest.

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