Kahnawa’kehró:non looking to evade their chores can feel good about adopting a new talking point this spring: a well-manicured lawn is no friend to biodiversity.
The Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO) is encouraging community members to put down the weed whacker and usher in No Mow May, an initiative to give pollinators such as bees, beetles, and butterflies access to more of the natural food sources they need in early life stages.
“We all have to do our part in caring and helping biodiversity in our community, and this was just a fun way to get people involved,” said Onawa K. Jacobs, general manager of environment protection at KEPO.
“The goal of the campaign is to have as many locals as possible refrain from cutting their lawns for the entire month of May,” she said.
Pollinator populations have long been on the decline, but their activity is crucial to the reproduction of 90 percent of flowering plants, according to KEPO’s website.
Participants will receive No Mow May lawn signs to raise awareness about the pitfalls of lawn mowing and are asked to submit pictures each week. In addition to the satisfaction that comes with helping the environment, three gardening-themed prizes are at stake.
It is the first time the office has promoted No Mow May, but it was selected because it fits KEPO’s goal of educating the community in an accessible way.
“We understand that not everyone has a science background, and it’s important to use everyday language that’s relatable to the whole audience, from youth to elders,” said Jacobs.
The campaign has already exceeded expectations, with 30 residents signing up to take part as of this week.
“I’m so excited about it,” said community member Megan Day, who has already registered.
“With the grass being able to grow with no one disturbing it, all the beautiful wildflowers will have a chance to bloom,” she said.
Day would have avoided mowing her lawn regardless, but she feels she will be making more of a statement this year.
“It’s a simple, sweet gesture to care for the earth and its wildlife,” she said. “I really do hope everyone joins in.”
Day and her mother are neighbours who usually share their yard duties, and her mother is on board with the idea.
“My ma was all smiles when I told her about the No Mow May,” Day said.
For those Kahnawa’kehró:non who are looking for additional ways to support pollinators, Jacobs suggests people avoid pesticides, let grass grow longer, use a rain barrel to collect water for gardening, plant native trees and shrubs, and choose a variety of native flowers that will bloom in different months.
Jacobs also recommends that residents consider white clover instead of grass. “It requires less mowing, smells great, and is a fantastic food source for bees,” she said.
“Ultimately, we want to spread awareness in the community on all the ways people can directly support and care for Mother Earth,” Jacobs said. “Individual citizens have more power than they realize!”
Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door