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Plans for ‘Peace and Freedom’ pollinator garden in Bemidji

The Birds, Bees and Butterflies group of Bemidji is seeking help to bring a pollinator garden to town in honor of the Ukrainian’s valiant efforts for peace and freedom.

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The Birds, Bees and Butterflies group of Bemidji is seeking funds and volunteers to bring a pollinator garden to town in honor of the Ukrainian’s valiant efforts for peace and freedom.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — The Birds, Bees and Butterflies group of Bemidji is seeking help to bring a pollinator garden to town in honor of the Ukrainian’s valiant efforts for peace and freedom.

As a symbol of peace, sunflowers — the national flower of Ukraine — will be featured in the garden in support of the Ukrainian’s ongoing fight and to thank local veterans for their service in protecting America’s own peace and freedom for years to come.

The sunflowers, along with other native wildflowers and grasses, will provide food for birds and pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

The garden will be located along Anne Street across from the new Veterans home that's currently under construction near the Sanford Health campus.

It will take up just a small portion of the former 35-acre Kummer Sanitary Landfill, a former solid waste landfill from 1971 until 1984.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, facility operations at the landfill contaminated the groundwater with volatile organic compounds. Following entry of the site into the state of Minnesota's Closed Landfill Program, the EPA took the site off the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 1997.

“We secured a Board of Water and Soil Resources HELP grant (Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot program) to provide some of the funding for state-owned parcels on the east and west side of the Kummer site,” Birds, Bees and Butterflies member Peter Buesseler explained. “(We) are in the process of raising funds for the privately-owned Kummer property planting along Anne Street -- the most visible part of the project to the public -- where we will put up signage promoting the planting.”

Buesseler says the garden will be about seven acres and will use a more natural approach to reduce the need for herbicides to kill weeds and existing grass for site preparation.

“The current owner of the Kummer landfill property purchased the site with a vision of installing a pollinator-friendly solar garden on the site in the future,” Buesseler said. “If our technique is successful he will likely try applying it to the entire property when the solar project takes shape.”

To reduce the need for herbicides to kill weeds and existing grass for site prep, Buesseler says the group will plant black oil sunflowers and then use a no-till native seed drill from the Beltrami County Soil and Water Conservation District to plant native wildflower and grass seed directly into the sunflower stubble late this fall.

The Birds, Bees, and Butterflies Bemidji is seeking support from community organizations, volunteers and donations to reach a fundraising goal of $3,000 to bring the 'Peace and Freedom' garden to life.

For more information or to donate, visit www.spearheadmhas.org/peace-and-freedom-garden.

Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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