Habitat For All Garden
Mahoosuc Land Trust believes the collective impact of small backyard actions can create significant wildlife habitat, foster empathy for nature, and provide a place of respite for you. The Habitat For All Garden at Valentine Farm in Bethel, Maine, demonstrates DIY plantings and projects that show all of us have the power to create meaningful nearby nature habitats for pollinators, butterflies, birds, … and people. Conservation right in our backyards!
Why A Habitat For All Garden?
Habitat is typically used to describe the elements needed in an area - food, water, shelter, and space- for wildlife to thrive. In the Habitat For All Garden, we expand this idea to include humans. Why include us? Humans are part of the natural world and if the planet is going to continue to support all life, we must find ways for people and wildlife to exist and thrive together.
The Four Elements
The Habitat For All Garden is focused on four elements:
1. Sanctuary for people, 2. Places for children to play in nature, 3. Growing food, and, 4. Sanctuary for wildlife.
Though listed separately, each element can serve many functions. Plants can produce food for us and insects, a pond can calm our busy minds, provide shelter for frogs, and the space for dragonflies to lay eggs.
1. Sanctuary for us. Our busy and distracted lives are harming our physical and mental health. Studies have shown that spending time in nature, especially in nearby nature, can relieve loneliness, rumination, and improve our mental wellbeing. Imagine how regular experiences with plants and butterflies, hearing birdsong, or harvesting food would improve your day! Photo: Julie Zickefoose
2. Places for children to play in nature. Today, many children choose to play indoors- often in front of computer screens- rather than outdoors. As a conservation organization, MLT understands that interacting with nature is a critical first step towards building empathy for the natural world. In the Garden, you will find places that encourage play, exploration, and creativity; places where children (and adults) can build, grow, collect, and come face-to-face with insects and birds.
Photo: Jim Bebko
3. Sanctuary for wildlife. Successful wildlife gardens give us abundant opportunities to get up close and observe insects, birds, and other animals. It also requires that we adopt new practices and aesthetics - gone are the pesticides that kill the caterpillars that feed the birds; welcomed are tangly shrubs for birds, damaged leaves, and spots for creatures to drink and bathe. Then, as if by magic, pollinators will flock in along with butterflies, moths, and birds will follow. You will have created nearby nature for wildlife, and YOU. Photo: Paul Stancioff
4. Growing food. Growing some of the food you eat is incredibly powerful. Tending and harvesting fruits and vegetables builds life-long skills, puts us in control of the quality and safety of our food, and is a great way to be absorbed in the seasonality of life. In addition, anybody who grows fruits and vegetables knows the pleasure that they give not just in the growing but on the table cannot be matched.