‘Bees and Butterflies’ educates on importance of pollinators

Planting An Idea Sherry Reed, Mary Cox, and Marledeen Joy demonstrate how one would plant parsley. All three were trained by K-State to impart their gardening knowledge on the community.

Whitney Clum

All things bright and beautiful were “beeing” planted to help communities bloom at the Mulvane Art Lab as part of an ongoing project to help individuals in communities connect to each other and to Mother Nature.

Volunteers from the Youth Committee, the Shawnee County Master Gardeners and the Tonantzin Society, hosted a project aptly named “Bees and Butterflies,” March 10 where children from the community got the opportunity to plant parsley in a small flower pot that was provided to them. The plant will hopefully attract both Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies and bees when planted in their backyards.

This agricultural activity is part of a series of activities put on by the Tonantzin Society at Washburn, which started with a showing of the documentary “The Lotus” at the Rita-Blitt gallery, followed by a talk on community gardens. To help facilitate the activity, the society reached out to the Shawnee County Master Gardeners.

“We do disabled-type gardens for people that have mobility issues,” said Mary Cox, one of the group of gardeners who came to help walk the children through planting and caring for their plant. “We have public gardens, like those out at [the] Governor’s Mansion, out at Lake Shawnee, community gardens when we do vegetable gardens, demonstration gardens, composting, we do recycling through the green team effort. All of it is geared toward educating people and sharing the information that we’ve studied so that we can better educate the people and make better things for our earth and our environment.”

Early in the afternoon, children were welcomed into the colorful art lab, where each person selected a small pot, scooped a bit of soil into the pot, patted three to four seeds down into the mix, then used a charmingly old-school watering can to give the seeds something to drink. Pictures were shown to give kids an idea of what Eastern Black Swallowtails looked like, in both caterpillar and adult form.

“Anytime we plan anything with the Mulvane, its never just one event,” said Christina Valdivia-Alcala, the director of the Tonantzin Society. “We plan a series of events to help engage all aspects of community…to hopefully restart the interest in community gardens.”

As part of the series, the events on Saturday were specifically geared toward demonstrating to children the role gardens play in a community, with the hope of making a lasting impression on younger generations.

“We had the community garden talk also at the Rita-Blitt gallery, and that brought in Kansas City Community Gardens to hopefully restart the interest in community gardens, with healing communities, with bringing communities together, with reconnecting individuals to Mother Earth basically, and also to be part of communities, and so in extension to that is involving children, always involving the children, and that’s what this event is about here today, the bees and butterflies event,” said Valdivia-Alcala.“It’s helping them to envision what they see as a community garden, it helps them see how bees and butterflies are an important part of the ecosystem.”