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The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 1

2/27/2022 3:58 pm

The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 1


by Karin Guzy


Plans and plants need time to mature.


There is a copy of National Geographic magazine on the corner of my desk. It is dated May 2020 and the cover story is titled “You’ll Miss Them When They’re Gone,” referring to the alarming decline in insect populations. It was sent to me by an acquaintance in New Mexico who has an affinity for nature. We had walked the Sante Fe botanical garden together in 2018.


Nat Geo wrote that a 76% percent drop in insect biomass was reported by entomologists in a German study conducted between 1989 and 2016. These kinds of numbers are reported throughout the world, the result of climate change, habitat loss and insecticides.  Some of the numbers are worse: 80% decline in beetles in New Hampshire with the diversity declining by

40%; butterflies in the Netherlands declined 80% since the 19th century.

Why should we care? 

  • Insects are in nearly every food chain. 
  • Waste-eating insects unlock nutrients for plants.
  • Predatory insects feed on crop-threatening insects.
  • Pollinators
  • They are soil engineers, providing pathways for water and nutrients.

What can we do?

  • Ban neonicotinoid pesticides, often added to plants we buy at nurseries.
  • Stop being so tidy – some insects depend on species we think are weeds.
  • Eliminate casual pesticide use on lawns and in gardens.
  • Grow weedy patches where insects can take refuge.

This last suggestion struck home with me. I manage the 11.5-acre McFarlane Nature Park. It occurred to me that we have a section of pasture that no one really uses. The seed of an idea began - to establish a meadow – not a garden. A messy area filled with native plants where we could grow ourselves some insects. Hopefully, an increased population of insects would also bring us more birds.


I chose a 9’ x 30’ section and started to make a plan.  Stay with me and I will try to document the growth of this idea, not knowing if it ends in success or failure.




NEXT: The Plan

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