Throughout the country, efforts are being made to promote pollination by native bees and other flying insects, and on June 4 at 11:00 am, the URI Master Gardeners, who help maintain Prescott Farm in Middletown, Rhode Island, will be doing their part to encourage gardeners to join the cause.

The URI Master Gardeners, have invited State Wildlife Biologist, Gary Casabona, to Prescott Farm to give a talk and walking tour of the historic property. Casabona works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is a leading expert on the subject of pollination, and has made several appearances throughout New England extolling the benefits that native pollinators provide.

There are an estimated 4,000 species of native bees in the country, and Casabona says some 400 species have been identified in Rhode Island alone. Native bees, which tend to be solitary (as opposed to imported honey bees which are social and live in hives) are nevertheless important to gardeners and food growers. It is estimated that without pollinators, 50 percent of the food people eat would disappear from grocery stores. The problem is human development practices have greatly reduced the habitat for native bees.

In his talk and walking tour, Casabona will inform gardeners about choosing the best trees, shrubs and wildflowers to benefit pollinators and other wildlife. He will give tips on site preparations, seeding practices and maintenance of established pollinator plantings. Casabona is also helping the Master Gardeners in establishing a five-acre pollination meadow at URI’s East Farm campus in Kingston, RI.

Casabona has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Virginia Tech. He worked for NRCS for 14 years in New Jersey before moving to Rhode Island in 2011. His current work involves habitat projects for New England cottontail, native pollinators, shrub land nesting birds, wetland restoration, fish passage and oyster restoration.

This special event is free to the public as part of a seasonal program held at Prescott Farm, “Garden Tips and Soil Testing with the URI Master Gardeners”. Every Sunday, volunteers of the URI Master Gardeners work at the gardens of Prescott Farm from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. New this year, every first Sunday of the month the Master Gardeners share their areas of expertise through a special lecture series, with topics varying each session. Special lectures begin at 11:00 am.

Prescott Farm is located at 2009 West Main Road, Middletown, RI. For more information on this program, visit www.newportrestoration.org/learning_programs

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.