'No pollinators, no farms': Fairfield addresses decreasing pollinators

To combat the habitat loss contributing to the severe declines in the native bees, butterflies and other pollinators necessary for the survival of crops, Fairfield County residents have been creating a Pollinator Pathway.

To combat the habitat loss contributing to the severe declines in the native bees, butterflies and other pollinators necessary for the survival of crops, Fairfield County residents have been creating a Pollinator Pathway.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — New developments have increased the housing and businesses in town, but they’ve also brought a negative side effect.

Natural pollinators are on a downward trend as several factors, including development, have contributed to the population decrease.

“Pollinators are in decline due to destruction and fragmentation of habitat from development, a lack of native plants due to an increase of invasive species, inappropriate and excessive use of pesticides and a lawn culture that promotes turf grass mono-culture which offers no benefits to pollinators and other wildlife,” according to the forestry committee’s resolution submitted to Fairfield’s Board of Selectmen.

Mary Hogue, member and co-founder of Sustainable Fairfield, said that over the course of many years, Fairfield, which was once a big farming community, has broken up many of the larger spaces as the town developed.

“If everybody just makes a little bit of a patch of native plantings in their yards, the pollinators can fly,” Hogue said while quoting one of her most influential authors. “They can hop from little patch of native plants to little patch of native plants to big open spaces that we have in Fairfield.”

These “hopping spots” are just one way the sustainable group members believe that the community can help pollinators survive.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the forestry committee’s resolution, which included four ways to encourage the community to help the environment.

The four ways included reducing lawn size by providing predominately native and pollinator-supporting plants to assure a sequence of blooms between early spring through fall, protect and enrich soil by using organic yard-care practices and avoiding application of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and treated mulch as well as having a natural water source such as a bird bath or fountain.

The last step includes following the best practices for garden cleanup, including cleaning up in the spring, allowing plant heads to remain through the winter to provide food for the wildlife and leaving the leaves on flower beds through the fall and winter to provide habitat, soil nourishment and protection.

“Pollinator species such as bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinating insects are vital to maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems. Native plants support pollinators and all wildlife in Fairfield and beyond by providing food and shelter. They also help prevent erosion, keep our waterways clean, restore soil health and improve the air we breathe,” according to the resolution.

Hogue expanded on this statement explaining that pollinators are responsible for most of the food people eat.

“We talk about no farms, no food, but no pollinators, no farms,” Hogue said. “It all starts with the pollinators. They are the starting points of the food web.”