Suddenly, everything came to a halt. ECPC’s plans for Earth Day 2020 scheduled for April and for community planting and invasives pull days were well underway last March when suddenly no more mass gatherings, no more public events, everybody stay home as much as possible. This meant the popular Earth Day community event was cancelled – no community tree planting, no interactive environmental education exhibits, no more invasive pull Saturdays. What to do??
Thankfully, just before the lockdown, the Park Board staff was able to lay the new soil in the pollinator garden and provided new pollinator plants and seeds. Bee “queen” Silvia Hagen and helpers released the mason bees to their “bee hotel” to do their pollinating work. A small determined group of volunteers went to work immediately re-planting and seeding the expanded pollinator garden and worked to keep out invasives all spring and summer.
David, chair of Everett Crowley Park Committee, who spent several days a week doing volunteer work in the Park from late spring to late summer, says “I’m amazed! Because of COVID, I met and had good conversations with many who were new to the Park or had rediscovered it and said how much they appreciated this natural haven.”
Many wanted more information on the history and vision of the Park. Good contacts were made and good will spread.
One volunteer was inspired to write and post a “Haiku For You” as a “friendly” way to remind dog owners to keep their dogs from digging holes – or at least fill them again before leaving for safety and aesthetic reasons.
The ECPC noticeboard became covered with colourful plant info and park posters. Despite no announcements of meetings or public events, nature ed carried on. “Can You Dig It? Please Don’t”,” Caution when windy as trees can fall”, and a monthly “Facts About Plants” June, July and August. Signs pointing out community blackberries sprang up with volunteers trimming suckers to encourage the ripening of those juicy berries for all passers-by to enjoy. Signs explaining stewardship purpose and goals were erected at key locations.
Finally in July and August, with BC Health Stage 3 underway, ECPC met once again, in the Park at the learning circle in Manfred Meadow – physically distanced of course – and made plans for the rest of the year, starting with two invasive pull Saturdays – one in July and one in August – to clean up the high-traffic “tri-corners” area in the northeast part of the Park at the junction of Snake Trail and Everett Loop Trail. Results are ongoing. Also decided was to have two committee-and-a-friend planting days in the fall – Sept 26 and Oct 3 – and plant requests were submitted to the Parks Board who generously provided hundreds of native plants.
The results are there for all to see – the pollinator garden, the area next to Manfred Meadow, and in the tri-corners area. Stewardship will be ongoing to keep the “invasives” at bay until the new trees and native plants grow sufficiently grow strong and tall on their own. The mason bee life cycle continued, with Silvia and helpers removing the bees from their hotel for “hibernation” for the winter until next spring when the “ba-bees” are once again released to continue their pollinating work.
Through the “restrictions” this year, ECPC has learned how much love and appreciation of the Park there is in the community and how the Park can grow community, an ongoing process of reciprocal growth and caring. Working towards community – like working towards re-wilding the Park – is never “finished”. Growing community and stewarding our parks and green spaces “IS” the GOAL.