Town and Village

Pollinator-friendly wildflower meadow takes root in Jamaica Village

JAMAICA — A town-owned plot of land in Jamaica Village, which includes a popular stretch of sidewalk the length of a football field, will soon be preserved as a biodiverse pollinator meadow and a wildlife habitat, thanks to the efforts of a group of resident volunteers and the local Selectboard. Work on the two-plus acre parcel of land on Water Street will begin in May.

According to a news release, residents interested in enhancing the property approached the Selectboard in June 2022 with a request to create an intentional wildflower meadow on the southern portion of the property. A majority of Selectboard members supported the idea and asked the group to form a committee and propose a more formal plan and budget.

The Water Street Land Use Committee, along with interested neighbors, met regularly to discuss what they felt would be best for the land where four homes previously stood before they were destroyed in Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

After the demolition and cleanup of the buildings, FEMA deemed the land unfit for development and transferred ownership of the land, which extends across the road to the bank of Ball Mountain Brook, to the town of Jamaica.

The committee identified its goals for the plot, starting with ridding the land, including that along the streambank, of invasive species (namely black locust and Japanese knotweed) and undesirable bramble.

Next came preserving the land in the back two-thirds of the property as a wildlife habitat and thoroughfare for local species - such as deer, foxes, turkeys, and bears - as well as create an environmental and aesthetic asset for the town with the establishment of a biodiverse wildflower pollinator meadow in the front third of the property.

With this intentional meadow, and the ongoing need for planting and weeding, the committee hopes the plot will create an opportunity for multigenerational community engagement in healthy, social activity.

With the guidance of committee member and professional landscape architect Erica Bowman, the committee presented its plan for “The Jamaica Community Pollinator Project” to the Selectboard at its Nov. 28, 2022 meeting. The board approved the plan and agreed to the requested 2022–23 funding of $5,404, which is roughly half of the total budget presented of $10,379, with the balance of costs coming through grants, private donations, and volunteer labor.

Volunteers are needed to help with this project in the spring and summer of 2023 and beyond. Needs include land preparation, planting of wildflower plugs, weeding, gardening supplies, and financial donations. Major initial contributions include the use of water from the artesian well on the Gotgarts' property of Water Street and a donation of horse manure for fertilizer from the Schmids of South Hill Road.

The Jamaica Village School hopes to participate in the project. Plans include a presentation to teach students about the importance of pollinators and the need to protect their ecosystems, along with an invitation to include students in scheduled work days. Additional school groups are encouraged to participate.

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