Riverwood Pollinator Garden
Planning for the Riverwood pollinator garden began January 2019. The pollinator garden was designed to include a 4,500 square foot location in Riverwood Plantation. Riverwood Plantation a large community consisting of 3,000 acres and 1,500 homes that highlights nature, family, and a strong sense of community. The garden is located between residential developments and adjacent to Greenbrier elementary, middle, and high schools. With the goal of educating the community on the importance of pollinators, beneficial insects, and proper plant selection, the location of the garden was key to the success. However, the location did not come without challenges.
Columbia County ranks number one in the state of Georgia concerning ornamental horticulture, or the production of flowers and landscape plants with a 2019 Georgia farm gate value of $101,6115,202.00. To meet the vast and diverse community needs for both commercial and residential horticulture education, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent coordinates a seven member Extension Leadership System Team that consists of green industry professionals, county leaders, master gardeners, and homeowners. Special emphasis was desired from the Extension Leadership System Team for educational programming in homeowner agriculture pertaining to pollinator protection as well as plantings to attract pollinators.
With the goal of educating the community on the importance of pollinators, beneficial insects, and proper plant selection, the location of the garden was key to the success. After collaborating with the Riverwood Home Owners Association and Georgia Power for approval, the space for the garden was selected and clearing began of the established Bahiagrass, brambles, and saplings in May 2019. The Columbia County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent started with a hand-sketched plan and the garden began to take shape as Master Gardener Extension Volunteers added donated plants from local business and supplies procured from grant funding from Monarch Watch, Augusta Area Master Gardeners, Plant America, and Georgia Association of Conservation Districts. The transformation of the area piqued the interest of the community and drew in community volunteers and the Greenbrier school systems administration, students, and teachers.
In 2019, the garden was host to over 35 families that participated in the Great Pollinator Count, and in 2020 hosted 20 families ensuring the social distancing protocols were met. The garden received the designation of being a certified Monarch Watch Waystation for both 2019 and 2020. To continue the community outreach, Master Gardener team leader Kelly Dzurny created a Facebook page to ensure the community and the schools were kept up-to-date on educational opportunities related to the pollinator garden. The garden provided five educational programs in 2019 where 56 attendees (21 adults and 35 youths) enjoyed presentations on types of pollinators, life cycles of pollinators, larvae and butterfly identification, native plants to attract pollinators, and building native nesting boxes. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in 2020, the garden has only been able to provided 3 educational opportunities reaching 21 attendees (12 adults and 9 youths). Two scheduled events, April Shower Program and May Flowers Program, were cancelled due to COVID-19. The garden has provided a unique opportunity for the community. It has become a hands-on outdoor classroom designed to provide the opportunity for both adults and youth to develop a better understanding of our pollinators and their importance to the world. The Augusta Area Master Gardeners have been a strong component to the gardens success by volunteering 206 hours in 2019 and 262 hours in 2020 for a total of over $10,000.00 in volunteer impact to the Riverwood Plantation Pollinator Garden. The impact to the community can be measured by the community’s involvement in the garden. The garden has received over $12,000.00 in in-kind donations from local businesses and homeowners. The Riverwood Home Owners Association has shown their appreciation and approved several enhancements and purchases totaling over $32,000.00. The UGA Extension office and the Master Gardener Extension Volunteers all take pride in serving Columbia County by being dedicated to the ever-changing opportunities that are presented to us daily. We hope to see you in the garden!
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: Multi-County
- County: Columbia
- Location: College Station, Athens
- Agriculture & Natural Resources