Pollinator Pathway Connects Seattle Green Spaces

Pollinator Pathway Connects Seattle Green Spaces

When we think about improving urban food systems, we tend think about growing more vegetables — densely planted backyard plots and community gardens, with tiny tomatoes ripening in the sun. But according to some experts, we should start thinking smaller — way smaller — as in bugs.

According to the United States Forest Service, over 80 percent of flowering plants depend on an animal to help them pollinate. These pollinators take a variety of forms — from hummingbirds to bats to lemurs — but the bulk of them are insects. Butterflies, beetles, and, most importantly, bees. So if you like to eat, you need to take care of your pollinating insects.

Seattle artist Sarah Bergmann first got interested in pollination a few years ago, after hearing how colony collapse disorder was destroying honeybee populations. Bergmann was surprised to learn that honeybees aren't a native species — historians believe they came over with the Jamestown colonists. And, Bergmann discovered that there are actually a host of native pollinators, from the tiny Orchard Mason bee to the dramatically colored swallowtail butterfly. And they all face a host of problems, from being threatened by pesticides to seeing the flowers they feed on (and pollinate) disappear due to urbanization or monoculture. And so Bergmann came up with a solution for Seattle: The Pollinator Pathway.