on a recent cold and rainy saturday morning, i participated in a a few events for a green apple day of service at lipscomb elementary school. actually, i was there with my husband so that i could help him give a demonstration on square food gardening. when he isn't busy at the university-he is the catering chef, he works with the kindergarten classes in their garden beds. he has been working with one of the teacher for the last two years and the program has been very successful.
the teacher he works with is also heavily involved with monarch watch. give becky five minutes and she will tell you all she can about monarchs. she even manages to work them into every lesson plan she has for her students. along side of the driveway just outside her classroom is long and narrow garden full butterfly plants. some are host plants for the caterpillars, like the milkweed for instance, while others, such as coneflowers, herbs and asters are valuable nectar plants for the butterflies.
monarchs like many other creatures are very sensitive to changes within their environment. the large amount of construction in many areas has meant a drastic reduction in host plants for monarchs and sadly, their numbers are declining quickly. i can remember seeing so many fluttering about during the summer when i was young but now, i can hardly remember seeing one this summer. but construction isn't the only problem that monarchs are facing. herbicides and genetically modified crops also have a hand in their decline and the bring back the monarch campaign is hoping to prevent further decline. you can help by planting any of the 15 native(to tennessee) milkweed plants in your yard or garden. for a complete list of the varieties native to tennessee, follow this link and to find sources for seeds and plants, check this list.
becky watches the plants closely with hope of finding caterpillars or a chrysalis. when she finds them, she carefully moves them to a secure environment in the building so that she can be sure they will have the chance to become butterflies.