New bee-inspired pollinator garden will also be educational tool for charter school

Students and staff at the Moab Charter School (MCS) have been busy as bees these past few weeks, preparing and planting a pollinator rain garden on their school grounds. A product of a partnership with Utah State University–Moab and the Bee Inspired Garden Initiative, the MCS garden will not only serve as a source of sweetness for Moab’s pollinators, it will also be integrated into classroom learning.

Spearheading the garden’s installation were USU students Claire Core, Ali Reese and Ruby Woodruff, who made it a reality by securing community donations such as mulch and rain barrels. The group also applied for and received a WabiSabi Make A Difference grant and threw a “Pollinator Party,” where community members could “adopt a plant” for the project.

MCS Director Emma Weiss said she was impressed with the Moab residents who brought the garden to fruition, including the fact that many community members really supported the project.

“For me, the important thing is we were able to partner with USU, which I think is a big thing for schools in any community. If you have universities or colleges around it’s a great way to build bridges,” Weiss said. “Also, people from the community were involved. For us, being the smallest school in the district, it’s important to reach out and have that community involvement and connect with people. It brought together the community and now this is something the teachers will build into their curriculum.”

Core, who is also a sustainability intern at USU, said that because the garden has a permaculture design it will incorporate the natural systems of plants, pollinators and humans.

“Permaculture is a mindset of looking at natural cycles and the human interaction and making the most appropriate decisions possible,” Core said. “We used permaculture as our design model, so we placed each plant in areas that have the right specifications for their sun, water and soil needs as well as their interactions with kids who will play and learn in their new garden. Some plants can be harvested from so they are more easily accessible in the garden.”

Core said MCS students and staff could look forward to harvesting plums, cherries and currants in the coming seasons.

She noted that the garden’s 100 mostly native plants will be watered entirely by roof runoff, using basins to help slow, spread and sink the water.

“The roof water is channeled through the downspouts into infiltration basins lined with rocks where most of the plants were planted,” Core said. “Those rocks in the basins will help slow the water, sink it in and spread the water out. It’s a low maintenance garden.”

According to Core, incorporating more permaculture principles into landscape and garden design could be beneficial for Moab’s dry climate.

“It’s pretty apparent that we live in a climate that has low amounts of water, so we need to be very conscious of what we do with the resources that we have available,” Core said. “We need to look into the most responsible ways to use the water we have. There are some really exciting and interesting things we can do and a lot of different solutions that can be found through permaculture design.”

Core plans to install another pollinator garden with MCS located along the north side of the school’s property, which is located on 300 South. She said Moonflower Community Cooperative has agreed to donate 5 percent of the store’s revenue from Tuesday, May 19 to the garden.

As for Weiss, she just can’t wait to see the MCS garden bloom in the coming seasons.

“I can’t wait to see what the garden is going to look like next year at this time,” Weiss said with a smile. “I was out there the other day and there were butterflies.”

For more information about permaculture and the Bee Inspired Garden Initiative in Moab, visit the website:

ByBy Molly Marcello

Contributing Writer