The Society of American Florists (SAF) and the American Floral Endowment (AFE) have joined the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a nationwide effort launched on June 3, challenging the U.S. to reach the goal of 1 million new pollinator gardens by the end of 2016.Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

The Challenge is an effort of the National Pollinator Garden Network, in which SAF and AFE are also partnering, and is part of the response to President Obama’s National Pollinator Health Strategy. [For details, see the May 22 SAF Week in Review and the May 21 AFE press release]. First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to schoolchildren at a White House garden event on June 3 about the importance of pollinators.

The National Pollinator Garden Network will work to provide resources for individuals, community groups, government agencies and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat. Pollinator gardens provide a way to help pollinators, by offering food, water, and habitat for honey bees, native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators — and the horticulture industry has a major role to play in providing plants for those gardens. Healthy and site-appropriate plants produced by professional growers of trees, plants and flowers provide the very things that pollinators need to thrive.

President Obama’s National Pollinator Health Strategy has three major goals: Reduce honey bee colony losses, increase Monarch butterfly numbers, and restore public and private lands as pollinator habitat. These goals align well with the horticulture industry’s Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative, www.growwise.org, which will develop grower stewardship best practices for plant production, direct and leverage research to provide the sound science needed to underpin decision making, and look for opportunities to help improve and provide forage and habitat. To learn more about the industry’s Stewardship Initiative, go to Endowment.org/bee-donate.

The goal of the Network is to rally thousands of gardeners, horticulture professionals, schools and volunteers to help reach the million gardens goal. Any individual can contribute by planting for pollinators, in gardens ranging from window boxes to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens, and corporate and university campuses. Learn more about how to register your participation at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org.