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The Pollinator Project

Bees and butterflies have been disappearing The Bee Box by the millions. The university has decided to do something about it. In the summer of 2016, we began to build our pollinator program, including a pollinator garden and bee boxes.

All plants were donated from a variety of garden centres such as McKenzie Seeds, Rekker's Garden Centre, Vandermeer Nursery, and Veseys. Our bee boxes were set up to house bee colonies that have been growing in the Windfields Farmlands' barn walls. According to apiarist consultation, the estimated populations of bees that were re-homed in Spring 2016 was 200,000 (three hives).

The wildflowers Our pollinator garden was planted and managed according to the eligibility criteria for certification through the Canadian Wildlife Federation. It includes standing water features, resting stones throughout, and log borders for winter hibernation. We do not use non-organic pesticides, and have implemented water conservation practices. 

The garden includes a combination of native and non-native shrubs, perennials, annuals, flowering bulbs and milkweed. It includes vegetables like peppers and tomatoes. It also has herbs such as sage, mint and lavender. The garden is home to perennials such as asters, black-eyed susans, hostas, mums and wildflowers. It contains both common and butterfly milkweed. 

Sunflower with BeeOur goal for the Pollinator Project is to not only help provide a place for pollinators to visit but also for you to visit the university. We hope to design an outdoor classroom. The class will include workshops on gardening and bee management for students, staff and community members. Due to the successful growing season this year, we also hope to expand the garden and start our own seed library soon.

Fun pollinator facts

  • Native bees and European honey bees do the majority of pollinating, but butterflies, ants, beetles, moths, hummingbirds and bats are also considered pollinators.
  • All bee species have different tongue lengths that adapt to different flowers.
  • Different-coloured flowers will attract different kinds of pollinators. Bees often prefer blue and purple-coloured flowers, and hummingbirds enjoy colours like red and pink, while butterflies like bright yellows.  
  • A flower's fragrance also attracts pollinators, especially night pollinators such as bats and moths.

To appropriately support our honey bees and pollinator populations, Windfields Farm is also home to a 2.8-hectare pollinator garden. This mix includes pollinator-friendly plant species such as black-eyed susans, echinacea, milkweed and aster.

Aside from the large pollinator plot, we also care for a smaller plot, which includes vegetables, common milkweed, butterfly milkweed, sunflowers, herbs and more. 

If you are looking to grow your own garden to attract pollinators or grow vegetables, check out the university's Seed Library.

 

The university is home to 31 hives on Windfields Farm, including the three hives saved from within the walls of the barns. Our hives support huge populations of honey bees and in return, they provide us with honey to support their care and maintenance. If you would like to support our bees and the local populations of pollinators, purchase honey right here on campus. 





PHOTO GALLERY

Our tree nursery is home to a variety of native coniferous and deciduous trees. Once these trees become strong enough, we plan to relocate them to our campus to provide shade and visual aesthetic.

  • You can create a living legacy on our campus: name a tree!

Our apple and pear trees require pollination to properly grow and produce fruit, so we rely on our local pollinator populations to help out in that process. For more information, contact sustainability@ontariotechu.ca

Photo Gallery: Communications and Marketing Tree Planting 

PHOTO GALLERY: WE GROW TREES

In the summer of 2018, the university introduced its Community Gardens. Ontario Tech University, for the second year has been awarded The Fulbright Canada-U.S. Embassy in Ottawa Community Leadership Program grant. This year we aim to continue the work from last year and expand our Community Garden plots on campus. Through this amazing program, Ontario Tech will grow the Pollinator Project to plant more native, and pollinator-friendly flowers along with significantly increasing the amount of produce generated in the gardens. Collaborating with soup kitchens in the area, we will donate fresh, local produce which will be incorporate into meals for those in need. The Community Garden will not only generate produce but will become an integrated community gathering space, where we will host workshops on gardening practices, importance of pollinators and healthy ecosystems along with sustainability principles for the campus and community along with youths from schools in the area. This community hub will connect people to each other and back to nature, while improving their mental and physical health, as they become local stewards. Currently open to staff and faculty, the gardens provide a great opportunity to grow healthy, local food while developing a sense of community within the university. Gardeners are welcome to grow various plants, including flowers, vegetables and herbs, in 10-by-14-foot plots. Beyond learning new gardening skills, they will have a chance to attend workshops relating to sustainability, the food system and healthy living as they become local stewards. Excess produce will be donated to Feed the Need Durham and St. Vincent's Kitchen (Durham Outlook). 

This project was sponsored by Ontario Tech University and a grant from the Fulbright Canada-U.S. Embassy in Ottawa Community Leadership Program.

The Fulbright Canada-U.S. Embassy in Ottawa Community Leadership Program provides small grants to alumni of Fulbright Canada programs and other United States Government exchange programs to partner with local organizations in order to make a significant positive social impact in a Canadian community through volunteer-based projects.

greenhouse

Another recent addition to this project is a 32-foot greenhouse. This greenhouse will continue the pollinator project, allowing gardening through the cooler seasons. With eight-by-two-foot handmade wooden raised beds and various potters, this greenhouse offers plenty of space to grow plants through every season. The greenhouse provides opportunities to experiment with verticle farming plants such as tomatoes. It also provides opportunities to research various factors that may impact plant growth, such as temperature. The excess produce from this initiatve will also be donated to Feed the Need Durham and St. Vincent's Kitchen (Durham Outlook).

Pollinator team

  • Hailey Hogan, Asset and Sustainability Assistant (fourth-year student)
  • Georgia Wilder, OCIS Gardener (fourth-year student)
  • Ken Bright, Director, OCIS
  • Peter Stoett, PhD, Dean, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities
  • Mary Olaveson, Associate Teaching Professor, Faculty of Science
  • Nadia Harduar, Asset and Sustainability Planner

How can you support the pollinator project?

Purchase the university's local honey! Visit the link below for more information. 

Honey Sales