At the May 25 St. Michael City Council meeting, local resident Jake Lunemann presented his idea for a community project along the walking trail near St. Michael Elementary. Lunemann is currently undergoing the process of becoming a Master Gardener, and as part of this process has a certain amount of volunteer hours to be completed.
The project would be a pollinator strip of wildflowers along the walking trail south of St. Michael Parkway, and Lunemann is not requesting any funding from the city.
“It would be about roughly 200 feet long, and sort of cover that first section with trees, and then it will open up again,” he said. “Since it’s on the hillside, I didn’t want to till it up or anything, so what I am doing is this process called solarization.”
Solarization entails laying a clear, plastic tarp over the lawn and leaving it for a few weeks, which heats up the soil and kills any weeds and grass growing beneath it. This process also doesn’t require the use of any herbicides, fertilizers or removing of soil.
“Native bees will hibernate in the ground, and in the stalks of flower stems if you don’t mow them, so the idea is to give them some food and give them a home,” said Lunemann.
These pollinator strips are built by growing a mix of shrubs, grasses and perennial flowers, and the full effect should be achieved in 2-3 years, if all goes well. Lunemann will also set up an educational sign teaching those passing by about pollinator gardens and the importance of bees and butterflies.
The council approved the project, and recognized that if the first series of planting goes well, they could expand the length of the strip in future years.