The HSSJ Monarch Project
In December of 2018, HSSJ was fortunate to review an extremely generous donation to be used exclusively for milkweed for monarchs. Gwenne Baile, our 1st Vice President was also an active participant in Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Garden Taskforce and a Camden County Master Gardener. She is an avid monarch fan having a Certified Monarch Waystation in her yard. She had dealt with North Creek Nurseries, a wholesale distributor, in the past and was able to create a relationship with them for HSSJ. Since HSSJ is a non-profit, we were able to order from the strictly wholesale nursery and we proceeded to get phenomenal landscape plugs to distribute at local sustainability and gardening events. We also purchased milkweed seeds. Both landscape plugs and seeds were planted in our garden at Croft Farm in Cherry Hill.
In the fall of 2020, we reached out to our donor and discussed the need for monarch butterflies to have nectar plants as well as milkweed. He agreed and we received another donation. To enable us to distribute more milkweed as well as nectar plants, our Monarch Project was created, and Gwenne Baile was named as Chair. She then appointed JoAnn Engels to be the Vice-Chair. Gwenne had a relationship with Wild Roots New Jersey, a distributor out of Collingswood. She had purchased many native plants from them. We reached out and formed our relationship with Wild Roots New Jersey. Tim and Lindsay Ifill are the owners of the business and have been wonderful to work with. The Monarch Project met several times and with consultation with Wild Roots, decided to distribute Monarch Kits on Saturday, May 1, 2021, despite the pandemic. We were able to make connections with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cherry Hill to do hands-free distribution at that site. We bought 120 Monarch Kits at a cost of $60 each and all were snapped up. Collingswood Monarch Project received 20 kits for distribution to community areas in Collingswood. The other 100 went to paid-up members (who got “first dibs”) on the kits as well as friends, family, and other gardeners. There was a lot of interest in the Monarch Kits which, in turn, attracted quite a few new members to HSSJ. Each person receiving a kit was given a 15-minute window in which to drive through the parking lot, give their name, and pop their trunk and a volunteer put the kit or kits right in their car. It was quick and efficient. We couldn’t have done it without all our volunteers.
The Monarch Kits contain 5 each of 5 different plants for Monarchs. They are healthy, tall seedlings. In 2021, the kits contained 2 varieties of milkweed that grow well in our area and are the easiest to grow. That was important to us since we have all levels and ages of gardeners in HSSJ. The two milkweeds were Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) and Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed). Also included were Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Black-Eyed Susan(Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida), and Summer Phlox( Paniculata “Jeana”). A package of zinnia seeds (Zin Master) was an added bonus. Wild Roots New Jersey supplied the link for planting instructions for the Monarch kit.
We followed up the distribution last May with the call for photos from the gardeners who received them. Some of the most engaging photos came from gardens in the communities with children enjoying the planting experience.
We are absolutely thrilled to let everyone know that we will be giving away Monarch Kits again this May. Due to avoiding Mother’s Day weekend, our pickup will be on Saturday, May 14, 2022, again in the morning with the location to be announced. It will be in the Cherry Hill area. We have already met with Tim from Wild Roots New Jersey. We expect the kits will be a few dollars more, still totally funded by our donation at no cost to the recipient. Tim has told us that the milkweed varieties will remain the same. We will, however, have 3 different nectar plants in each kit as well as another package of zinnia seeds. We are hoping that the 3 new nectar plants are: Purple Coneflower, Aster (purple dome New England aromatic aster), and Showy Goldenrod (fireworks). The varieties depend on what is available from the growers, but we are hoping that the fact we are ordering early, we will get those varieties.
Everyone who received the kits in 2021 will be receiving an email with an application for a kit in a couple of weeks. We are anxious to get a rough count of how many kits we will need from Wild Roots New Jersey. Members and friends who received them last year are still encouraged to get a kit this year providing they have room to plant them. Each kit requires a minimum of 25 square feet ideally in full sun. Also, representatives of community organizations are welcome to get kits. You must fill out an application form for each kit that you are responsible for whether it is for your own garden or for a community location. We ask that you are specific on your form as to what community location you want a kit. That is to prevent a site from getting kits they can’t use due to duplication. You should also check with the leadership of the community location to be sure it will be allowed on the location. You are welcome to tell your gardening friends and family. If you did not receive a kit last year and want one this year, please complete the application using this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfLAqGuQ99u0WsARydYIwZiJ24vqRHzqUfW_Nj8jBmCJZ-4QA/viewform?usp=sf_link
It is first come, first served so remember that if you become a currently paid-up member, you move up on the list. The membership form for HSSJ is on this website and you can pay your dues online. Paid dues go from September through August so members who joined this time last year will need to renew their memberships. YOU MUST BE AVAILABLE TO PICK UP YOUR KIT AT THE APPOINTED TIME ON MAY 14, 2022, OR HAVE A DESIGATED PERSON TO PICK UP FOR YOU. WE CANNOT DELIVER OR KEEP YOUR KIT FOR A DIFFERENT TIME OR DATE.
Any questions do not hesitate to contact Gwenne.
Gwenne Baile, 1st Vice President of HSSJ and Chair of the Monarch ProjectJoAnn Engels, 2nd Vice President of HSSJ and Vice Chair of the Monarch Project