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.