How Does Your Garden Grow–with Native Organic Plants from Wilton High School

The Wilton High School Garden Club is conducting an organic garden native plant sale, now through April 24; plant pickup is Saturday, May 9.

Not only can residents purchase wildflower seedlings for their own gardens, their purchases will help benefit the local Pollinator Pathway and improve the wider habitat in Connecticut.

Wilton High School is the first high school in Connecticut as well as New England to become a member of the EcoType Project, which is, “a plant and place based approach to land stewardship and agrarian resilience in the Northeast.” To help support a new initiative, the WHS Garden Club is teaming up with the CT Chapter of the Northeastern Organic Farmers Association (CT NOFA), the Wilton Land Conservation Trust and the Pollinator Pathway. WHS senior Brett Gilman (pictured above, left, with junior Eli Grass) has met with members of these groups to learn more about this project and to take action. Most recently, he has led the entire Garden Club in growing wildflower seedlings and has organized a partnership with Planters Choice Nursery LLC of Newtown to hold a native pollinator plant sale this spring.

The goals of the project are to help educate people about the native wildflowers that grow in this area as well as get people interested in planting them to help improve the natural ecosystems in the state. The students will be holding a sale this spring so people can purchase some of these and plant them in their yard to help support the Pollinator Pathway here in Wilton as well as improve the habitat for native species of birds, butterflies, and bees. Additionally a portion of the sale of each plant purchased will go to help the Wilton High School Organic Garden Club, which not only is working to actively improve the habitat in Wilton but also runs the school’s organic garden which produces food for the high school cafeteria.

In addition to the plant sale, the students will be taking some of the extra plants and will be using them in the school’s own butterfly garden as well as planting some in areas of the town so that they can monitor their growth, distribution, and will also have access to some native seed stock, which they can then harvest and grow for future years. This is going to allow the students of WHS to have an ongoing research opportunity and also a way to document and prove the positive things that happen when natives are planted.

Donna Merrill, executive director of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust and Pollinator Pathway co-founder, says the Trust is thrilled to partner with the WHS Garden Club.

“Providing landowners with the native plants that support our insects gives our entire town the chance to be part of the Pollinator Pathway. I find it so exciting to watch the students be the educators. By making the right plants available for our bees and butterflies they’re proving that what each of us do in our own backyards makes a difference.”

The position of CT NOFA is clear about the importance:  “Our Response:  We must restore native habitat to safeguard our food system. Our initiative exists at the intersection of farms, gardens, land trusts, and public lands: we aim to increase the number of native plants growing in our region. To do this, we are growing seed crops of Connecticut’s native pollinator plants, wild collected from our open-spaces, and bringing them to our nursery growers and homeowners so that we can produce the plants to restore native pollinator habitat.”

To learn more about the project, visit the WHS Garden Club website and order online.