Environmental Health Interest Group Sows Pollinator Garden on Campus to Increase Presence of Native Plants
The garden aims to provide a habitat for vital pollinator insects and raise awareness of the environment’s impact on food security.
New York Medical College’s (NYMC) student Environmental Health Interest Group recently planted a pollinator garden outside of Sunshine Cottage in an effort to increase the presence of native plants and pollinator insects and raise awareness on the environment’s impact on food security. The garden, started by Anastassia Sunday, School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2024 will have 10 different species of plants native to the NYMC area to attract the pollinator insects that will pollinate the plants and bolster the native plant community.
One of the primary goals of the garden, in the west courtyard of the administration building, is to combat the loss of biodiversity due to native plant species lacking proper habitats, which can have a chain reaction effect on the local environment.
“We chose to grow native plants in our garden because local wildlife is critically dependent on native plant communities,” said Ms. Sunday, who started the student group.
Thanks to the pesticide-free garden, the pollinator insects, such as bees and butterflies, will have a consistent food source and habitat while helping nurture the native plant community. The plant species in the garden include New England Aster, Butterfly Weed, Ox Eye Sunflower and Sweet Joe Pye Weed. Pollinator insects are also vital to food security for humans, responsible for “one in every three bites of food we take” and increase the crop value of the United States by more than $15 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The decrease in pollinators, which the garden hopes to help on a micro level, has been a concern across the globe for decades. One of the most prominent pollinators, honeybees, have seen a “serious decline” in the U.S. for 30 years, according to the USDA.
Ms. Sunday said that the more diverse the local wildlife is, the more variety in food sources will be available to humans, which would be beneficial for their diets and reduce food insecurity. “Diets based on a diversity of food species can help to protect against disease by addressing micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies,” she said.
The group hopes to examine the garden’s benefits and see how they can be applied to medical studies as well as deliver lectures on environmental health topics, embracing composting and recycling on campus in the future, Ms. Sunday said.