Did you know that last week, June 22-28, was Pollinator Week? As noted by scientists, naturalists and wildlife officials, pollinators—a diverse group of species including insects, birds and mammals—are responsible for pollinating three quarters of our flowering plants and crops. Without them, our world would be a much less colorful, fruitful and nourishing place.

In response to declining pollinator numbers, and to increase awareness of the importance of these vital links in our food chain, the first nationwide Pollinator Week was organized 13 years ago. It’s grown since then, with events held across the country, including locally, as people call for better conservation for creatures such as the iconic monarch butterfly, whose populations are crashing throughout the west due to loss of habitat.

On Wednesday, June 24, a group of local pollinator enthusiasts—including Sonoma Ecology Center Restoration Program Manager Jason Mills and members of his crew—toured Sonoma Garden Park and two other locations to admire the pollinator gardens, swap native seeds and plants, and share ideas on how to improve the outlook of these crucial species. Due to coronavirus concerns, it was a mellower gathering than in past years, but our enthusiasm for pollinators remains as bright as the monarch’s wings, which can carry them between Mexico and Canada on their yearly migration route.

Sonoma Ecology Center’s Pollinator Garden at Sonoma Garden Park is designed to be a much-needed stopover for them, and to provide food and habitat for the many other pollinating animals—bees, bats, hummingbirds, beetles and more—that have kept our planet so vibrant and productive for millions of years. Similar gardens exist nearby at General Vallejo’s Home and at First Congregational Church on Spain Street, where the pollinator fans also gathered. But any other outdoor space in Sonoma Valley, from backyard gardens to potted plants on a porch or balcony, can be used to help pollinators just by growing the plants these animals require. (Tip: to help monarchs, plant milkweed!)

Also in attendance at the Garden Park last week was Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey, who signed the National Wildlife Federation Mayors’ Monarch Pledge a year ago on behalf of the city; Mia Monroe of the Xerces Society for the Conservation of Invertebrates; Lisa Segraves of Sonoma Land Trust; Sonoma’s Cindy Lindh, who organized the event; and others. We are grateful to you all for helping share our love of pollinators!