Developed by Cameron Cartiere and Nancy Holmes as a working methodology, the Public Art Pollinator Pasture is a public art-driven wild flower meadow that benefits a multitude of essential pollinators (including bees, butterflies, and birds) and empowers communities to be ecological ambassadors and citizen scientists.
The creation of a habitat for threatened wild pollinators is essential to these species’ survival and, ultimately, the sustainability of the wider ecosystem. In addition to its environmental impact, the Pastures will also encourage environmental awareness and sustainable behaviour. While the average person may feel powerless to stop the dramatic decline of the pollinator population, there are, in fact, simple and effective ways to contribute to their sustainability. The Pastures will encourage communities to take an active role in the habitat solution, while at the same time meeting public safety, beautification, and lifestyle improvement needs for those who utilize the site.
The Pastures promote and contribute to environmental sustainability at both ecological and community levels by creating sustainable habitat and ecosystem renewal for threatened wild pollinators in the region. The environmental impact of the project will be scientifically measured through Border Free Bees’ partnerships with notable academic researchers at Universities such as Emily Carr, Simon Fraser, Thompson Rivers, and Dalhousie.
The Bridgeport Pasture
The Bridgeport Industrial Park in Richmond, BC serves as the pilot pasture for the project. The park is set within the Richmond Bath Slough catchment area. and is made possible through partnerships with Emily Carr University of Art + Design, the City of Richmond (Parks Department, Sustainability Unit, and Public Art Program), BC Hydro, West Coast Seeds, Vancity and TD Friends of the Environment. As the pilot pasture, this important initiative allows the research team to develop a blueprint for future projects while transforming Bridgeport Industrial Park into a dramatically enhanced site. The project utilizes public art methodologies to produce an aesthetically pleasing wildflower pasture, engage the surrounding community, and create sustainable habitat for the benefit of wild pollinators.
For the 2015 growing season, the pasture was planted of a pollinator friendly cover crop (alyssum, red clover, phacelia, and mustard), which improved soil conditions and quickly beautified the site and improved habitat conditions for pollinators. The research team worked with students from the nearby H.J. Cambie Secondary School’s to produced an extended sunflower wall as part of the initial pasture design. Students potted 600 sunflower seeds, cared for the seedlings, and then planted them on-site. The research team also worked with students from the Kwantlen Farm School who helped to harvested the mustard crop. The Kwantlen students utilised the harvested seed to produce jars of mustard. Additional amenities were also designed and developed for the Richmond pasture including carved log seating and wild apiaries (often referred to as ‘insect hotels’).
During this first growing season, the team tested a citizen scientist protocol in the pasture. The data collected will help establish a baseline of pollinator activity for comparing the impact of cover crop to next year’s BC native seed design. The Spring, 2016 pasture will incorporate a range of blooms planted in the shape of bumblebee wings, which will be visible from the airport flight path above. The pollinator pasture will be an earthwork that visitors can experience at ground level and from the sky. Each coloured section of the bee wing incorporates several varieties of native plants that will bloom in succession, thus ensuring that the site will remain in flower for the full pollinator season – early spring to late fall.