A Blaze of Summer: Solel Congregation’s Pollinator Project

Over 1,500 native wildflowers stand as a testament to Solel Congregation’s deep-rooted compassion and commitment to providing a nurturing environment for its diverse members. Dedicated volunteers have spent nearly a decade fundraising and working to transform the Mississauga Sawmill Creek property.

Today, the thriving gardens contribute to the natural heritage of the region and support community youth as a learning site for thoughtful discussion and citizen science.

Planting pollinator habitat

Solel joined CVC’s Greening Corporate Grounds (GCG) program in 2011. Their vision was to improve the ecological health of their property and create an opportunity for youth engagement. GCG helped volunteers identify and design sustainable landscaping projects that could be installed over several years.

Initial project funding was limited, but that didn’t stop the Congregation from getting started. They began by removing Goutweed, an aggressive invasive species prevalent in urban areas. Goutweed is often mistakenly used as an ornamental groundcover, but it’s harmful to the local environment. It displaces the native plant species pollinators rely on for food and shelter. Replacing invasive species with native plants, can help slow pollinator decline which threatens our local food supply and local and global biodiversity.

Volunteers replaced the Goutweed with native pollinator-friendly plants like Wild Geranium, Wild Strawberry and Smooth Rose. The plantings transformed the site’s parking lot island into a thriving pollinator garden.

Through determined fundraising efforts, the project continued to expand with support from individual donors, Greening Sacred Spaces, the David Suzuki Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment and CVC. By 2017, volunteers replaced a portion of lawn and replanted two berms with bright woodland pollinator plants, like Zigzag Goldenrod, Large-leaved Aster, Sky-blue Aster, Hairy Beardtongue and Gray-headed Prairie Coneflower.

Berms planted with native wildflowers.

Berms planted with native wildflowers

CVC’s Conservation Youth Corp (CYC) helped enhance the project. Student volunteers built pollinator habitat using the hollow stems of herbaceous plants and wood. Mason and leafcutter Bees were quick to use the material to lay their eggs.

Hollow stems of herbaceous plants and wood

Hollow stems of herbaceous plants

Summer at Solel is now a blaze of colour, bees and butterflies. The gardens are a nurturing, safe space where members of the congregation, friends and family and youth can discover and explore their connection with nature.

Feeling inspired? CVC offers guidance and financial support to businesses, institutions and places of worship in the Credit River Watershed interested in stewardship projects on their properties.

To learn about opportunities on your property, contact a sustainable landscaping coordinator at gcg@cvc.ca or visit cvc.ca/gcg.

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