Sunflowers planted as part of the “Pollinator Preserve Project” between Nufarm and students from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Science (CHAS) are now blooming, providing food and safe haven for pollinators and birds at the Nufarm site in Alsip, Illinois.
The sunflowers were planted in late May. One group of plants was replanted in early July. The objective of the Pollinator Preserve Project is to provide a beautiful view for drivers on Interstate 294 and also double as a valuable tool for teaching consumers about pollinator preservation and conservation.
At the planting ceremony on May 28, Nufarm representatives and CHAS students planted two varieties of sunflowers in a 5,000 square foot plot. Today, the sunflowers can be seen easily from interstate 294. In addition, the sunflower plot is filled with bees of several varieties busily pollinating flowers and birds are beginning to feed on the earlier maturing flowers that are already bearing seeds.
“It’s terrific to see this project coming along so well,” says Darryl Matthews, General Manager for Nufarm in North America. “Our promise to our partners and customers is to ‘grow a better tomorrow’, and by providing food and shelter for pollinators and birds, and educating the students and consumers about the importance of pollinators and conservation, I think we’re performing an important community service.”
The sunflowers will provide shelter and food to key pollinators in the area such as honeybees, leaf cutter bees, bumblebees and mason bees. These pollinators are critically important in the pollination and production of dozens of agricultural crops. In addition, the sunflowers won’t be harvested – they will be left with the heads on to provide food and shelter for area birds this coming winter.
Pollinators play an important role in global agriculture (according to the Pollinator Partnership):
– In the U.S., pollination produces approximately $20 billion worth of products annually.
– More than 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
– There are more than 200,000 species of pollinators, most of which are beneficial insects such as bees, flies, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and beetles.