To: Bluedot Living
From: Natural Neighbors
Subject: Going wild all over the Island
The Natural Neighbors Program launched in June of 2021, advising and encouraging individuals and neighborhoods across the Island to plant local genotype native plants and add features such as water and shelter that benefit plants, pollinators, and wildlife in their yards.
With a start-up grant through the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship, our goal was to recruit 125 participants within two years. A year and a half into the program we have 209 Natural Neighbors! We partnered with Polly Hill Arboretum to design and distribute native plant kits, selling 54 kits in the first year and 67 in the second year. All plants in the kits are ecologically important, aesthetically appealing, and in need of wider distribution. While planting native plants is a primary component of the program, it is equally important to remove invasive non-native plants, but many participants report feeling overwhelmed by their invasive plant problem. To build capacity and community, we are developing a volunteer-based labor cooperative, the Invasive Plant Brigade to begin in 2023.We have made significant progress engaging with Island community members and empowering them to make small but meaningful changes to promote biodiversity. We welcome new Natural Neighbors to the program in January 2023 and donations to support the program beyond May 2023. To sign up or make a donation, visit bit.ly/Natural-Neighbors.