Bring Back the Monarch

Oh my, isn’t that gorgeous? Wow! The Monarch, so beautiful, indeed. 

Here at Cherry Ridge Farms, we have been busy conducting our Outdoor Classrooms. Many years back, a decade ago,  we began offering field trips for kids to connect with my girlhood farming roots. Growing up on the farm encompassed many great childhood memories for me.  I loved running through the pasture fields, saying hello to our various farm animals. Plucking and creating a bouquet of hand selected purple Ironweed and Golden Rod just for mom.  Often times, slowing down from running to catch our breath, sister and I would watch birds here, there and everywhere.  It also felt like a magical moment when we would watch beautiful butterflies flap their wings while dipping their noses in a flower in the meadow or along side our farmhouse–awe, the wondrous discoveries during childhood.

If you fast-forward, five decades, nothing much has changed. I still LOVE all those things. Maybe I don’t run through the pasture fields like before, but meander more methodically now. Ha!  Of recent, I made a note to self, that the school kids during our farm’s Outdoor Classroom meadow station found it difficult to find many butterflies to scoop up in their butterfly nets…unlike I remembered on the farm of my youth.  “What happened to the butterflies?” I asked Kelly, the friend that moved here from Baltimore with a horse to board and being instrumental in helping us get the Outdoor Classrooms going.  “When I was a kid, butterflies where everywhere, of all colors but especially the Monarch and the Swallow Tail black and blue ones I loved seeing. “ How come I don’t see them as much anymore?” I asked her. She schooled me,   “The Monarch is endangered.” I was surprised.  “What ever do you mean?” She went on to tell me, “The Monarch is dependent on the eradicated milkweed plant to survive.”   Who knew? Certainly not me.  “They lay their eggs on just the milkweed plant. The eggs hatch and the catepillar feeds from the leaves of the milkweed plant—so no milkweed, no Monarch,” she said. “Not only are they beautiful, but Monarchs are pollinators, so they are useful insects, bees, bats, and birds.” 

This milkweed plug was transplanted from the field and came back on its own this year. I hope a monarch finds it. 
 A naturalist at heart, I found that very interesting. And with that, she and I discussed how we could help bring back the Monarch here on the farm so visiting children (or us adults) would have the experience of enjoying the butterflies like I did on the farm.  And maybe, at this point, I have sparked your interest here, too, so be sure to read on.  
I wasn’t quite sure exactly how my plan was going to unfold, bringing back the Monarch, but as Mother always preached, “where there’s a will there’s a way,” I began my research.  I found I’m not the only one with the mission. So, here at the farm we have set aside a two-acre plot near the banks of White Oak Creek close to our special needs woodland trail and call it our Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. We began by registering our plot with Monarch Joint      

With Kelly’s help, we applied for and received a mini grant from Foundation For Appalachian to purchase supplies to begin planting the area with flowers and milkweed.  And just recently we also received another mini grant from Monarch that will be supplying the milkweed plants, four flats, for our projects, shipping to our farm next week.   And, with that being said, if I sparked your interest, we are offering individual and groups to come to the farm and be a part by helping us plant with a planting party on Saturday, May 27th, 9-12 PM. Bring a small hand shovel for digging in the dirt and we’ll put you to work helping the farm bring back the Monarch for the kids we serve.   Well, maybe it’s for adults, like me, with a big imagination. 

 I’m already dreaming big with a wish list of shelters and picnic tables and a garden shed, and signage for that area too. And I imagine myself sitting on one of those benches, writing in my journal. Or a story I’ll share here. 

 If you can’t help us that day, too far away,  but want to donate one of those items mentioned,  that would be awesome, and we’d love to have you come to the farm and help bring back the Monarch. It’s sure to be a day on the farm full of excitement. Just comment and I’ll be in touch!   

My daughter captured this lovely picture in her flower garden. I love it! 
So Here’s the Thing: I so enjoy being in nature.  For me it is a peaceful, connection to the creator of all things. That resonates with my spirit.   I thoroughly enjoy introducing the “thrill” of  nature, butterflies, birds, plants, woodland trails, creek beds and so on,  through the lens of a child. And that my dear friend,  transports me right back to the  farm girl days of my youth.  

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