A special new garden is developing at Hanley Farm. In response to the alarming population crash of the iconic monarch butterfly throughout North America over the last ten years, a small group of concerned local citizens began establishing Monarch Waystations throughout the Rogue Valley in 2013. Led by Tom Landis, retired National Nursery Specialist for the USDA Forest Service, these volunteers specifically design and implement the Monarch Waystations to have all the components needed for a healthy monarch butterfly habitat (food, water, shelter). This concept started with the University of Kansas Monarch Watch program in 2005 and there are now over 9,000 registered waystations across the US.
These striking tropical pollinators colonize most of temperate North American in the warmer months through an extensive migration of 1000-2000 miles to overwintering sites in Mexico and the southern California coast. Annual counts at overwintering sites have documented severe declines of up to 90% in some areas, which are attributed primarily to habitat loss. As amazingly hardy and adaptive as these tiny marvels seem, they cannot survive without a very specific habitat for breeding and overwintering. Since breeding occurs in the US, we have the ability to improve, restore, and create safe havens that focus on nectar bearing flowers for adult monarchs, host plants of milkweed for monarch caterpillars, shelter of woody trees and shrubs, and a water source. Although there are at least 75 varieties of milkweed native to North America, there are two widely distributed species in our region, showy milkweed and narrowleaf milkweed. As the name implies, milkweed was traditionally considered an undesirable weed that was sprayed or mowed. However, milkweed is essential to the survival of the monarch butterfly, as it is the only food source for monarch caterpillars!
We are excited to join the thousands of monarch waystations across the country! We hope our garden will not only help provide a safe habitat for monarch butterflies during their breeding season, but also to educate and inspire others in our local community to do the same. Our waystation is starting as a 12’x30’ space next to our community garden plots. For more information visit www.monarchwatch.org.