Establishing Harrisonburg as a Pollinator-Friendly City
Celebrate Pollinator Month with us!
June is National Pollinator month and the City is celebrating big this year! With the establishment of a pollinator corridor and many community partnerships formed through Harrisonburg's Pollinator Program, the City has decided, this year, to celebrate Pollinator Month all month long rather than just during the popular "pollinator week" June 19-25. Harrisonburg Public Works has gathered up other City departments and local partners to offer the Harrisonburg community (and visitors) a month long schedule of events and activities! Check out the list of pollinator events below:
- Keister Elementary Pollinator Garden Volunteering - June 1, 9:00am - Bring your gloves and join JMU's College of Integrated Science and Engineering in a community volunteer pollinator garden clean up supporting pollinator gardens at our local elementary schools! The volunteer work for this event will take place in the Keister Elementary School Garden. Contact Amy Goodall if you are interested in participating at email@example.com.
- Guided Pollinator Walking Tour - June 1, 10:30am and 1:30pm - Meet at Liberty Park, 188 North Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, for a guided downtown pollinator walking tour and discover what pollinators are in City spaces downtown! One tour will take place at 10:30am and a second tour will take place at 1:30pm.
- Harrisonburg Farmers Market - June 13, 8:00am - 1:00pm - Come visit our booth and learn about pollinators! Stop by and pick up your own pollinator plant and learn about all the fun activities taking place during Pollinator Month!
- Butterfly House Workshop at Liberty Park - June 16, 5:30pm - Liberty Park, 188 North Liberty Street - Join Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance for a fun workshop and kickoff for the popular Best.Weekend.Ever. event! Participants will construct their very own butterfly house to take home and use to support the pollinators! Witness a special Rocktown Urban Wood Buttefly House Free Library unveiling during the event! The Free Library unveiling will take place at 5:30pm followed by the workshop at 6:00pm. Registration is required. Register here.
- Guided Pollinator Walking Tour - June 20, 10:30am and 1:30pm - Meet at Liberty Park, 188 North Liberty Street, for a second chance to attend a guided downtown pollinator walking tour and discover what pollinators are in City spaces downtown! One tour will take place at 10:30am and a second tour will take place at 1:30pm.
- Celebrating the Firefly - June 21, 8:30pm - 10:00pm - Heritage Oaks Golf Course, 680 Garbers Church Road - Enjoy the longest day of the year and the spectacle of thousands of fireflies. Enjoy a short educational session discussing the different types of fireflies in our area and why they are beneficial. As the sun sets and dusk arrives there will be the option to stroll down the paths at Heritage Oaks Golf Course and see the fireflies lighting up!
- Lunch and Learn about Pollinators - June 23, 11:00am - 1:00pm - Liberty Park, 188 North Liberty Street - Pick up your lunch from a Harrisonburg downtown restaurant or bring one from home and enjoy chat with City staff about pollinators, what to plant, native plants, pollinator-friendly practices, and more! Pick up your very own pollinator plant as you enjoy the beauty of the flowers in Liberty Park.
- Bee Hotel Workshop - June 27, 1:00pm - 3:00pm - Purcell Park 41 Monument Avenue, Shelter 3 - Building a pollinator hotel is a great way to attract solitary bees and other pollinators to your garden. Join Public Works in building a pollinator hotel for your yard. First come, first serve with one kit given per family. Once your hotel is complete, participants will learn how to use iNaturalist to identify local pollinator plants.
The Buzz Around Town - Pollinator Celebrations Taking Place by our Neighboring Partners this Summer:
- Bumblebee Art from Sylvas Aidukatis at the Friendly City Food Coop - Stop by during First Friday from 5:00pm - 7:00pm for light refreshments and to see the two exhibits for June.
- Butterfly Capes (Youth Activity) - Wednesday, June 28, 10:00am - 11:00am - Register Here.
- The Importance of Pollinators for Biodiversity - Wednesday, June 28 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm, EJC Arboretum Frances Plecker Education Center - For more information visit the EJC Arboretum website.
- Big Bug Hunt (Youth Activity) - Wednesday, July 19, 10:00am - 11:00am - EJC Arboretum Pavilion in the At Home in the Woods Family Garden - Register Here.
- Night Fliers Bug Hunt - Monday, July 24, 7:30pm - 8:30pm - EJC Arboretum Pavilion in the At Home in the Woods Family Garden - Register Here.
- Monarch Tagging & Release - Saturday, August 12, 11:30am - 12:30pm - EJC Arboretum Frances Plecker Education Center - Register Here.
Press Release - February 15, 2023 Harrisonburg's Pollinator Program becomes a national example [484KB]
In early 2019, Harrisonburg Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments began planting pollinator spaces that are creating a pollinator corridor through The Friendly City.
What is a pollinator corridor and why is it important? A pollinator corridor is a pathway of gardens and meadows planted with native pollinator flowers, grasses, and trees that appeal to our native pollinator species of bees, butterflies, moths, birds, and even bats. This corridor planted through an urban area helps keep our local ecosystem working by providing a pathway for pollinators to travel, rest, and feed. Did you know 1 out of every 3 bites of the food you eat is thanks to a pollinator? That's right, pollinators touch 1/3 of the food we consume, over 150 food crops in the United States depend on pollinators.
Harrisonburg's pollinator corridor is made up of many small areas planted on public grounds. Some are as small as four square feet. Occasionally we are lucky to have a public space where we can plant a larger pollinator meadow. Like the meadow on Noll Drive, by the billboard, that is 4,791 square feet of pollinator bliss. These spaces designed for pollinators are important because pollinators are facing global declines due to habitat loss, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure and it is the City's job to make sure we are proactive in counteracting these issues. Staff, with the assistance of various local organizations such as the local Girl Scouts and First Presbyterian Church volunteers, have installed pollinator spaces in parks as a step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.
Visit the City's Pollinator-Friendly Spaces
Pollinator spaces that city staff have installed and managed are listed in our Harrisonburg Pollinators Guide. Check out the story map to see all the new pollinator spaces we added this year.
Take the digital Downtown Pollinator Walk. This self-guided tour takes about 45 minutes, 20 minutes if you power walk, and hours if you stop to enjoy the amazing stores, shops, sights, and restaurants of Downtown. You can follow the interactive map that tells a little about each stop along the way, or you can download the Downtown Pollinator Walk Map [5MB] where the downtown pollinator spaces can be connected and enjoyed on a 1.1 mile.
The following locations are pollinator-friendly and include native plants but do not have maintained pollinator areas at this time:
- Westover Park
- Hillandale Park
- Purcell Park
- Heritage Oaks Golf Course
- Hillside along E Market Street in front of Gabe's & Hobby Lobby
- Many medians and roadsides no longer need to be mowed as frequently by Public Works as they have been transitioned to pollinator gardens
Establishing Pollinator Spaces
Just like any landscaping, pollinator spaces require planning, correct planting techniques, and maintenance in order to be successful. You can bring the beauty, and benefit, of pollinators to your home! You can create a pollinator space
at your home by planting a bed or meadow in your yard, or by planting in pots or planters on your deck, porch, or balcony. We do recommend you focus on native plants when planting a pollinator space.
- Planning and Planting: Pollinator Habitat should consist of native forbs, flowers, and warm-season grasses. All seed mixes or plugs planted for pollinator habitats within the city should be of native origin and appropriate seeding and planting rate. Starting with the right species selection for site conditions is paramount to pest management into the future. All ground to be planted should be surveyed and controlled for vegetative pest prior to planting either by hand pulling, mechanical control, or herbicide treatment. Soil should be cleaned of thatch (ideally burned) and slightly disturbed to ensure good seed to soil contact, but not deep-tilled in a way that encourages invasive vegetation. When possible, the seed should be drilled. If planting small beds, wildflower plugs should be used and mulched appropriately to smother competing vegetation.
- Maintenance: Pollinator habitat should be surveyed for invasive vegetation bi-weekly. Invasive or competing vegetation should be controlled by manual removal whenever feasible, mechanical mowing, or by spot spraying of herbicides. Over browse of nuisance deer should be dealt with by barrier fencing until the stand is fully established. Pollinator habitat should be mowed once a year during the dormant season to encourage new growth and removal of thatch from the previous growing seasons. Mowing or burning (where feasible) is the single most important pest management tool to control invasive and woody vegetation. Most insects that occupy native pollinator habitats are truly beneficial. Insecticides should not be sprayed in or near the pollinator habitat. The use of burning (where feasible) or mowing should control ticks to the appropriate level.
Types of Pollinator Spaces
There are two main types of pollinator spaces. The type of pollinator space planted depends on factors such as available space, the purpose of the habitat, and aesthetics.
- Pollinator Gardens: Pollinator gardens are small-scale (generally less than 1,000 square feet) areas that can provide an essential source of habitat for pollinators. They are sometimes converted from existing mulched beds and include native plants and plugs. These areas are more manicured than pollinator meadows.
- Pollinator Meadows: Pollinator meadows are areas of land converted from non-productive mowed fields or turf to pollinator habitat. These can be large scale (greater than 1 acre) or small scale. To establish a meadow, existing vegetation is removed, the seedbed is prepared, and a seed mixture of native plants and grasses are spread. In Harrisonburg, these sites include a mulched or mowed border and must be maintained to ensure invasive species are controlled.
Learn more about the City's efforts for creating Pollinator Spaces
- Press Release 2-15-2023: Harrisonburg's Pollinator Program becomes a national example [484KB]
- City Comprehensive Plan - Objective 11.2 and 11.4
- Environmental Action Plan - Land Use and Green Space, Goal 4
- Harrisonburg Pollinators Guide
- Pollinator Corridor Map
- Digital Downtown Pollinator Walk
- [5MB] Downtown Pollinator Walk Map