Posted by: cindydyer | June 27, 2011

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall; photographs by Cindy Dyer

Happy Tonics, in collaboration with Indianhead Action Agency, was invited to speak at Ruby’s Kitchen in Spooner in May. I visited the food distribution site and spoke to the public. Free vegetable seed was available from Indianhead Action Agency in Spooner. The only requirement was that a participant be below a certain income level to qualify for free garden seed. At least 30-40 people showed an interest and many more said they were going to plant a garden. Some stated they would be first time gardeners. Rising food prices impact pocketbooks and can change a person’s behavior.

May 27—Jim VanMoorleham and I did a walkabout at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We saw a Queen Bumblebee go into her ground nest. This is the first time either of us witnessed this. Queen Bumblebees usually seek a clearing of soil that they can build a nest in. There are several water filtering areas in the habitat, which is the purpose of these sparse areas of non-vegetation.

May 28—The Lakes and Pines Girl Scout Troop of Shell Lake visited Bashaw Farm and Nursery. Washburn County AODA Commission, Leopold Education and Pheasants Forever grants enabled the girls to create functional and fun container gardens at Shell Lake Friendship Commons. This year Youth Container Gardens consist of four whiskey barrels of vegetables, flowers, herbs and a pollinator garden. Garden flowers, herbs and produce will be part of the Summer Environmental Film Fest on June 25, July 30 and August 20 at Friendship Commons. Lakes and Pines Girl Scout Troop will host the event, give a tour of their gardens and prepare refreshments. Environmental films will focus on world water issues, monarch butterfly migration and bee colony collapse disorder.

Happy Tonics added plants to the retainer wall gardens at the Spooner Food Pantry. Herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, ground cherries and cherry tomato plants were added to the fledgling garden. Sue Adams gave the nonprofit permission in 2010 but we were short-handed last year. In 2011 we are rolling out the gardens for people to learn that food, herbs and flowers do not need to be planted in the ground for one to be sustainable. Grant money from Leopold Education and Pheasants Forever was shared with Fresh Start to install a fence around a Youth Garden in Shell Lake.

May 29—Sophie Belisle called in the first sighting of two Monarch butterflies in Springbrook. The young student reported that the butterflies came in after the storm. Sophie was very happy to see the Monarch butterflies in the meadows where she lives. She has already received a beaded butterfly pin made by Ojibwe children at St. Francis Mission in Reserve, WI. She also received a fabric art square of butterflies by Mabel Perry.

June 1—Happy Tonics opened a new Visitors Center in Minong. The artist loft is adjacent to The Scoop and has the advantage of Wi-Fi access. Minong is progressing nicely with Wi-Fi friendly businesses that want tourists and residents to frequent their establishments.

June 3—Kris Fjelstad called in the first monarch sighting in Shell Lake. She mentioned the day was cloudy and windy. It was 77.6 degree Fahrenheit and the time was 2:25 p.m.

June 4—Mary Ellen Ryall and Sandy Stein participated and walked with the Mother Earth Water Walkers close to Reserve, Hayward. The walkers of the southern direction have been walking since April 20, carrying salt water of the Gulf of Mexico to Bad River, WI where it will meet with the other waters from the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and Pacific. The southern direction included Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. The walk is ongoing until the water from the south reaches Bad River, WI on June 12. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness of loss of fresh drinking water in many countries around the world and to stop water privatization and pollution.

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