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Polk County Library Receives Pollinator Boost From Conserving Carolina

All it took were a few pickup trucks full of horse manure compost, some hard work, and some love to transform an empty space of land at the Polk County Library in Columbus into a thriving pollinator garden.

The project started this spring when the Polk Task Force of the Conserving Carolina education committee eyed a mostly barren patch of Earth behind the library that was adjacent to a previous pollinator habitat installation created five years ago by the Pacolet Area Conservancy and made possible by a grant from Loti Woods. It was only natural to extend it. With plants transplanted from the Trade Street pollinator garden and previous Pacolet Area Conservancy office, compost donated by Deer Meadow Farm, and willing hands, it was on.

“The soil was very, very poor and full of construction rubble,” said Liz Dicey, Conserving Carolina board member. “It took us 5 to 6 visits and two pickup truck beds of compost to amend it. All plants are native and helpful to pollinators.”

Dicey worked along with Vard Henry, Michelle Keyes, Linda Knippa, and Dibbit Lamb to turn the corner of the lot into a thriving garden, complete with bird feeder and cedar footstep path.

“The garden is directly behind the children’s area of the library. What better place for a bird feeder?” said Dicey. “We’re really excited about how great it looks.”

The project was completed with a lot of muscle and minimum funds. About the only expense was mulch, paid for by Conserving Carolina. Chuck and Misha Marshall of Deer Meadow Farm in Chesnee, SC, were generous enough to donate their compost, which is created through environmentally friendly means.

At Deer Meadow Farm, Chuck uses a covered three-bin manure storage area to create the compost made from manure and wood shavings bedding. This is an exceptional use of the manure generated by horses (an animal that can produce 50 pounds of manure per day).  Composting prevents leaching and runoff from nutrient rich manure piles from entering waterways. Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) in the water can cause dense plant growth and death to aquatic animal life from lack of oxygen.

Now, library patrons can enjoy the garden from the expansive deck above.

“I’m thrilled with how it turned out. I love how the plants are placed, I saw it before work started, and it turned out great,” said Vard Henry.

Dicey said no garden is ever finished and this one is no exception. In the future, they might create an informational brochure.

“People ask, ‘What are native species?’ These are plants and animals that occur in a region naturally and have adapted to each other in a particular ecosystem. Non-native species, those that occur outside of their range, are not beneficial to organisms that they have not evolved with. We want the good ones, our native species, to thrive, and that’s what’s going on here,” she said.

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