In Four Hours, a Citizen-Led Pollinators Project Blooms

At a community gathering on Saturday a shared vision takes root

Photo: Amber Pula

On Saturday morning, a “pollinator pathways” project that has caught the imagination of a group of local citizens took a next step towards blossoming into life in Peterborough.

18 curious and committed people — from the area’s leading naturalist, to gardeners, a beekeeper, current and retired teachers, a GIS specialist, community organizers and a 6-month-old baby — gathered together in response to an open invitation to co-create the next stage of the initiative.

“Really the idea for pollinator pathways is citizen-led,” says Carlotta James, one of the originators of the project. (See the video below, by videographer Amber Pula.) “The idea behind it is to reimagine what urban space can look like.”

The process is now in a wider discovery and invitation stage — starting with identifying the energy and capacity that already exists (lots), and linking that, and supporting each other, says Jo Hayward-Haines, an initiator of the idea. “I mean there are all kinds of people who already know a lot and have native species growing in their gardens.”

Peterborough GreenUP, Farms at Work, Camp Kawartha and others have worked for years to build skills and promote pollinators, and all the ways that they can bring more beauty, habitat and the experience of wild nature into the city.

The gathering moved from connecting to dreaming to doing. Multiple practical projects and a lot of personal connections, a-ha moments and possibilities came out of the dialogue, a process designed and hosted by Peterborough Dialogues.

Linda Gendron, a teacher who brought a personal dream of a schoolyard project, ended the morning saying it now feels possible. “I came here today kind of vaguely: ‘I’d really like to do this, I don’t know how, I don’t have enough knowledge to do this.’ And I’m leaving really thrilled that I think that this is going to be a reality.”

“There are a lot of doors that have opened and I didn’t even know the doors were there,” said new Peterborough resident Seana Murdock, who joined the group with her baby daughter Ophelia. “I came in with certain ideas and my mind’s been blown. It’s pretty amazing what can happen in a couple of hours.”

The gathering and the next steps in the invitation were co-funded by initiators and participants. Watch for more stories at, including multiple ways to get involved.

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  1. Pauline Harder

    Hey Ben, how can we keep informed of what happens with this particular project? Is their a contact list I can be added to? Also – is the project about large spaces, or does it incorporate smaller gardens throughout the city?

    • Hi Pauline! We’ve added you to the PD mailing list, including a subgroup for updates for this project. Smaller gardens throughout the city: absolutely. This whole project is an experiment in emergence. The core team — which is wide open to new people by the way — includes people with lots of skills, and gardening beginners who just love the idea and want to get their hands dirty. Everything from a few seeds in a balcony box or a business garden to the total transformation of a schoolyard or trail corridor can be part of this. We hope the idea itself will pollinate through the city, at every scale that excites people.

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