Pollinator Parkways: Local Effort Goes A Long Way


In the southeast neighborhood of Portland called Montavilla, lives a woman dedicated to Oregon's native pollinators in a way that is not only efficient, but unique in more ways than one...

After photographing bees for about ten years, Sherrie Pelsma, decided to dive deeper into understanding pollinators and not just the popular pollinator, bees. After becoming a home owner, Sherrie decided to turn her parking strip (the space between your property or driveway and the road) to a haven for the native pollinators living around her.

Many times these areas just off of sidewalks or main roads, lay dormant and overgrown with weeds or invasive plants.

However, Sherrie thought, what if these parking strips were occupied with plants that attract and facilitate a healthy habitat for native pollinators?

So after speaking with her neighbors and finding a consensus that flipping parking strips into mini pollinator habitats was a fairly easy project, Sherrie, along with a small group of volunteers, continued to create a corridor of pollinator parking strip habitats.

Parking strips are very visible and tend to be smaller than yards; so they can provide a less intimidating canvass, as well as create an opportunity to meet neighbors. Of course, parking strips can be brutal habitats. It took hours to research and talking to experts to assemble a manual, in hopes of making it an easy project.

In mid 2015 Sherrie received a grant to buy pollinator-friendly plants, and with the help of volunteers, over 3,000 square feet of new habitat was created and so was the inauguration of what would become Pollinator Parkways. Sherrie continues to run this completely volunteer-led group, including herself and in addition to a full-time job. Sherrie sincerely explains,

"I'm not an expert, just a well-read novice. I rely heavily on the advice of those more experienced than I am, from the Xerces Society to East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District."

Yet, the research and steps she has mapped out directly and effectively help conserve Oregon's native pollinating species.

To illuminate and distinguish her efforts, this spring, our OWF Native Pollinators campaign will be benefiting Pollinator Parkways. We truly look forward to continue supporting this local project and updating our supporters and followers when parking strip transitions are complete.

If you are interested in starting a project in YOUR neighborhood or community, she would be more than delighted to help you accomplish that! Just email pollinatorparkways@gmail.com. The Process:

  • In late summer/early fall, people can apply to have help for their strip. Due to funding and time constraints, a limited number of projects can be approved.

  • Follow-up surveys are requested, where applicants measure their strip and study the manual to decide which types of plants they'd like.

  • Sherrie makes appointments to come out and view the space, talk about the design.

  • Sherrie creates a to-scale design, so when plants arrive applicants know right where they go.

  • Volunteers are recruited to help with sheet mulching or digging up sod.

  • Sherrie orders plants that are native and not treated with pesticides.

  • Plants which are organized to match your design, are picked up.

  • Applicants plant them, care for them, and promise to chat with curious neighbors about the habitat, keeping the site free of chemicals.

For more insight on Pollinator Parkways and Sherrie Pelsma, listen to this interview below from UrbanFarmU or contact Sherrie with your questions!

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