Berkshire County Pollinator and Native Plant Initiative

The District addresses the decline of native pollinators and their host plants across all landscapes.

In 2020, the Berkshire Conservation District received grant funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources and Berkshire Agricultural Ventures to build on our commitment to conservation and sustainability in the community.  This funding enabled us to support healthy habitats, including pollinator plantings across all landscapes and to increase the number of Berkshire communities adopting Pollinator-Friendly Community resolutions, while educating the greater community about the importance of healthy soils and native plants, especially those that benefit pollinator species.  We also assisted farmers to include pollinator habitat and established a pollinator garden in North Adams, an environmental, and social justice and Pollinator-Friendly Community.

This program was built on the success of the Hinsdale pollinator garden project, a pilot program that promoted small-scale pollinator gardens in the town of Hinsdale, MA, which approved a resolution to become a ‘Pollinator-Friendly Community’ at the May 2019 town meeting.

With the increasing loss of habitat, use of pesticides and introduction of non-native species of plants, pollinators are in decline in the US.  Pollinators provide a vital ecosystem service by transferring pollen between plants to facilitate reproduction, making them responsible for 1/3 of the bites of food eaten by humans each day. “Gardening for pollinators creates links between humans and nature while fostering environmental stewardship” notes the Districts’ Board of Supervisor Chair, Adam Galambos.  “Stresses on pollinators exacerbated by climate change is disrupting biological systems including the pollinator-flower relationship which poses challenges for all pollinators.  By planting a variety of native pesticide-free pollinator gardens, we can help to support pollinators in our communities.”

The District offers on-line webinars led by knowledgeable pollinator and native plant specialists.  We have worked with Berkshire communities that want to pursue Pollinator-Friendly status.  In 2022, the town of Monterey passed such a resolution and the town of Lee passed their resolution in May 2023!  The District was able to offer matching grants for design, plant materials and/or educational outreach to help with the costs of planting public pollinator gardens in these towns. 

While funding for this program has ended, the District continues to offer a native plant sale in early September, focusing on plants that benefits pollinators.  Join our mailing list for updates.

The District welcomes volunteers interested in getting involved in these projects.  For more information and to be part of the District’s programs, contact us at [email protected] 

Here’s a great fact sheet on gardening to support pollinators from UMass Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment.

Here is a link to the incredible thorough and comprehensive Great Barrington Pollinator Action Plan

You can find more information on supporting pollinators in Massachusetts at Massachusetts Pollinator Network

Interested in making a simple mason bee house to support native bee populations?  Check out this video tutorial from our friends at Bee Friendly Williamstown!

Are you concerned that a pollinator garden will increase the risk of getting stung?  The reality is that the bees are stopping by for the pollen, not looking for a person to sting!  Read more about the benefits of attracting pollinators to your garden and reducing your insect anxiety here.