How to Promote Biological Diversity in Your Food Garden
As we write this article (May 22) the world is celebrating International Day of Biological Diversity.
“Biodiversity (…) provides plant, animal and microbial genetic resources necessary for food production and diversified, balanced diets. Biodiversity provides vital ecosystem functions such as soil fertilization, nutrient recycling, pest and disease regulation, erosion control and crop and tree pollination.” (Unicef)
For the intents and purposes of our Foundation, we would like to draw your attention to how biodiversity has an impact on nutrition for children across Canada.
Protection of biodiversity in food production may seem like an action item at a federal level (and it is), but you’ll be pleased to know that it truly begins in your backyard, community, and school garden. That’s right, you and your kids have the power to make a difference. When taken collectively, we can boost biodiversity at a national level to protect plant, wildlife, and human species for generations to come. Where to get started? Keep reading.
4 Practical Tips to Promoting Biodiversity in Your Backyard, Community, or School Garden
Plant Plants and Crops that Are Native to Your Environment
When some people hear the word “diversity” they may assume the more the merrier. While variety of plant species is indeed critical to creating a successful food garden, you will want to exclude foreign and invasive species as these are detrimental to a truly biodiverse composition of a given region. Only native plant species (and their leaves, flowers, and crops) provide nutrients for every living link in the chain, including caterpillars and the pollinating (more on this below) birds that need them for survival. Replace non-native plants with a diversity of native species in your backyard, community, and/or school garden.
Create a Habitat for Pollinators
As alluded to above, pollinators need native plants to thrive, and vice versa. Create an environment that invites natural pollinators into your garden. Your kids will be delighted to welcome in a beautiful array of honey bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, ladybugs, and more. View our tips to building a pollinator garden to get started. Is your community garden or school in a highly densified area? Fret not, because we have tips to creating a pollinator garden in an urban environment too!
Create a Habitat for Other Beneficial Bugs
Insect pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and ladybugs are known as beneficial bugs. They get the most “press” because they are cute and are often represented favorably in a number of cartoons that your kids grow-up watching. But there are other valuable species that you want to invite-in due to their capacity to keep the eco-system running as it should. In Canada, these include the praying mantis, wasps, dragonflies, ground beetles, lacewings, soldier beetles, and the spined soldier bug. Have your children enjoy our kids’ guide to beneficial bugs so that they learn which other critters should be invited into your biodiverse garden.
Create a Habitat for Other Wildlife
Beyond birds and insects other forms of wildlife at essential to sustaining a biologically diverse food garden. For instance, wildlife droppings are critical to soil health and keeping out unnatural intruders. Assuming that you have the outdoor space, you will want to create a natural habitat for them as well. In addition to the introduction and maintenance of a diverse makeup of native plant species, you will want to introduce other elements that are common to their environment. Gather up wood and rocks from your local forest and add piles randomly throughout your outdoor space. This will help attract natural wildlife that all play roles in protecting biodiversity. Depending on where you are located, these may include bats and squirrels, which surprisingly (to many) happen to be natural pollinators themselves.