Saving Pollinators in Missouri

By P. Allen Smith

Saving Our Pollinators 

Partnering with Leaders to Improve our Communities.  

First Community Bank’s and P. Allen Smith’s ‘Bloom With Us’ Pollinator Program

 

Pollinators are a Critical Component of Our Food Chain

Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumble bees are beautiful additions to the garden — animating space and bringing additional life and color.  But did you know that they are also incredibly useful? Actually, critical to our survival? Pollinators are not only important for preserving the health of our gardens, but they also play an important role in connecting necessary links in our food chain.  

 

Just How Important Are Pollinators to the Food Chain?

In Fact, the Pollinator Partnership reports that every one out of three bites of food we consume is brought to us by a Pollinator.  Thats pretty important! In addition to flower pollination, our small friends play a critical role with the production of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fibers, raw materials and 1/2 of the oils we consume–in sum, over 1,200 crops we eat are helped by a pollinator.  Pollinators are also good for the planet:  they help fight soil erosion by keeping plants healthy and proliferating, and even help with the air we breathe by increasing carbon sequestration. Nearly all plants (between 75% and 95%) require the help of pollinators for healthy functioning.  Wow! 

 

What is a Pollinator?

We typically think of Pollinators as handsome bumble bees.  The Italian bumble bees kept at Moss Mountain Farm, for example, are a picturesque addition to our landscape.  They dutifully work nearly year-round (and without complaint!) bringing the most soothing and light buzz to our Hollies, Hydrangeas, and our Ornamental Vegetable Garden.  But did you know that there are many other species of pollinators beside the fashionable bumblebee and butterfly? For example, bats (yes the ones that fly in the air at night), flies, beetles, wasps (this may also surprise some readers) and many small mammals are all pollinators.  How can this be (pun intended)?

At their core, pollinators drink or feed off the nectar of plants and then transport plant pollen from one spot to another as they move about. As they move about, pollen inevitably makes its way from plant to plant and pollination ensues.  

 

How Can We Save the Pollinators?

The Pollinator Partnership has done very good work in raising awareness.  Their primary suggestion is one I agree with — we must all play our part.  This includes home owners, local governments, and the companies who operate in our communities.

 

Corporate and Community Leadership in Saving Our Pollinators

That is why I am excited to work with First Community Bank.  They are making important investments to improve the health of pollinators across the Arkansas and Missouri region.  And, impressively, this dedication comes from the top. The Chairman & CEO of First Community Bank, Dale Cole, is a visionary who is passionate about the health of our region.  It was a no brainer when he shared with me his commitment to our communities that we could do incredible work together.

Now, in over 23 locations we have crafted beautiful pollinator hot spots — refuges that help our hard working friends and the plant life of the surrounding communities.  We hope you will consider supporting First Community Bank in their mission and also making your neck of the world a little more friendly for our hard working pollinators.

To learn more about the P. Allen Smith-First Community ‘Bank Bloom With Us’ Pollinator Garden Program, please see this short video I put together:

 

And check out the First Community Bank ‘Bloom With Us’ Resource Page on their website so that you can visit one of their participating branch locations.  Please let them know you appreciate the work we are doing together so the program will continue!

 

You may have seen a posting I blogged about earlier this year, if you would like to read it again, just click here.  I hope that other Arkansas and Missouri business and community leaders will take inspiration from First Community Bank’s lead and consider similar community investments.  

 

September 2019 Pollinator Program Update

This September I was excited to join our friends in Jane, MO and Neosho, MO to share my passion for saving our Pollinators, and to explain my design team’s partnership with First Community Bank.

Jane, MO

I met with Josh Tate, First Community Bank’s Chief Marketing Officer, early on Saturday 14th, 2019 at Crowder College to set the stage for the morning’s meet and greet and presentation.  Thanks Josh for helping bring the day together!

 

 

I also want to thank the hard-working volunteers from First Community Bank for putting together a filling breakfast and preparing tables and pollinator starter kits for the morning’s attendees!  Everything looked great!

 

P. Allen Smith with First Community Bank Volunteers at the Jane, MO ‘Bloom with Us’ presentation.
P. Allen Smith with First Community Bank Volunteer (and new friend!)
P. Allen Smith with First Community Bank Volunteer (and another new friend!)

 

These ladies know how to get it done — thank you!

 

Guests were provided with a ‘Bloom with Us’ bag to show their support…. 

 

First Community Bank and P. Allen Smith ‘Bloom With Us’ Pollinator bag.

 

….and a Pollinator Gardeners Starter Seed Kit (with some additional goodies for the ride home)…sometimes, I too, splurge on the sugar!

 

Bloom With Us Seed Pack.

 

And, as I think it is important that we inspire the next generation of gardeners and leaders to support the work we are putting in place now, guests were also given a copy of my coloring book!  I think this is great for children of all ages — even I enjoy some downtime coloring.

 

P. Allen Smith First Community Bank Bloom With Us Coloring Book.

 

After my presentation, I answered questions from our enthusiastic crowd, made new friends, and congratulated the winners of a surprise floral giveaway.

 

P. Allen Smith with First Community Bank Bloom With Us Jane, MO Presentation Guests.

 

 

P. Allen Smith sharing the love of gardening and supporting pollinators with ‘Bloom With Us’ guest.

 

It was a fun time and I look forward to returning to Jane soon!

 

P. Allen Smith with Josh Tate (First Community Bank Chief Marketing Officer).

 

Neosho, MO

Later that day, I was treated to a festive dinner reception sponsored by the business leaders from the Neosho Chamber of Commerce and First Community Bank.  Lauri Lyerla shared with me many of the exciting business developments taking place in Neosho and her love of the community.  She is doing an amazing job as the Executive Director and her enthusiasm is contagious!

 

Ashley Siler (Neosho Chamber of Commerce), Lauri Lyerla (Neosho Chamber of Commerce), P. Allen Smith and James Sumpter (P. Allen Smith).

 

First Community is doing great things to support the strong environmental, civic, and floral (one of my favorite subjects) traditions of the Neosho area.  Did you know the Neosho is home to the world’s largest flower box? Its true! (for more details, click here). Neosho has a captivating story of community involvement and citizens banding together to insure the long-lasting beauty of their streets and neighborhoods.  Flower boxes abound — I give this community’s efforts and commitments two thumbs up!  

 

The Neosho story was shared with me by Stuart Pucket (SVP & Senior Credit Officer of First Community Bank and Neosho Chamber of Commerce Board of Director) and his lovely wife.  We paused for a quick shot before entering the event space at Hidden Grace

P. Allen Smith with Stuart Pucket (First Community Bank) and his lovely wife at Hidden Grace in Neosho.

Hidden Grace’s Owner, Chris, shared with me her excitement for the P. Allen Smith-First Community Bank pollinator program and the beautifying traditions in Neosho before we sat down to dinner.

 

P. Allen Smith and Hidden Grace Owner, Chris.

 

A lovely table was set by our hosts.

 

Set Table at Neosho Chamber of Commerce Dinner at Hidden Grace with P. Allen Smith.

 

I love assigned, personalized seating.

 

 

Just before we sat down for our meal, I shared with the gathering our insights about Pollinators, what can be done, the good work of First Community Bank and our pollinator program at Moss Mountain Farm.

 

P. Allen Smith presenting First Community Bank’s ‘Bloom With Us’ pollinator-supporting program at the Neosho Chamber of Commerce dinner party.

 

James and I had the pleasure of dining with one of Neosho’s most fascinating conversationalists, the talented David O’Neill of the Joplin Globe.

 

As you can see good will and food were both abundant!

  

Neosho Chamber of Commerce Dinner Party at Hidden Grace.

 

I must admit there was a little-itty bit of wine served and I may have had a ½ a glass (or so)  — mild shenanigans may have ensued.

 

What might our friends caption this image?

 

Before dinner time, I checked out First Community Bank’s Neosho downtown location…I wanted to get a good look before the event began!

 

P. Allen Smith inspecting the ‘Bloom with Us’ window boxes at First Community Bank’s Neosho, MO location.

 

I must admit, I am impressed with these window boxes!  It has been a joy to design each unique location!

 

P. Allen Smith with Pollinator-Helping Plants at First Community Bank’s Neosho Branch.

 

What You Can Do to Support Pollinators

 

Pollinators need our help and anything each of us can do make a difference.   As I mentioned earlier, the Pollinator Partnership organization is doing an A+ job in educating the public, please consider one of their recommendations, which is one I feel strongly about, and that is creating pollinator habitats in your home and community.  

 

I have dedicated a large part of our plantings, adapted our gardening techniques, and make special efforts to make Moss Mountain Farm–my home–as friendly to pollinators as we can.  This has been a life-long passion of mine, and becomes increasingly an issue I discuss publicly and suggest to my (very discerning) landscape design clients.  

 

To learn more about the plants I have found that work, please see my article on Plants to Attract Honey Bees and also my article on Setting Up and Caring for Honey Bee Hives

 

If you would like to go deeper into horticultural care (you know I love this stuff), see my YouTube video on caring for Pollinator Friendly Summertime Annuals:

 

And, I know there are a lot of gold-star students who follow our work, for these special gardeners, I have crafted a video that goes further still into supporting pollinators, I highly recommend it:

 

If you happen to live close to the Ozark’s (Fayetteville, AR specifically), there is a great pollinator resource in your backyard!  I visited with Charlotte Taylor of the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks to learn more about their Pollinator Program — if you are a college student or live nearby, check them out and see my video on their program below:

 

 

If you are new, or if this all might be a little overwhelming, then may I suggest the following video that discusses how you might start small?  Its great for intimate gardens and makes a big impact.

 

 

Lastly, if you are making a large green improvement to your property and need a hardy and pollinator-friendly bush, as I have done extensively at Moss Mountain Farm, then may I suggest the following video.  The bush profiled in this video can be grouped in small or large massings depending on individual site need:

 

I appreciate all the work my friends are doing to help pollinators, thank you and know your example makes a difference — spread the word!