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Jefferson Community Center native pollinators landscape
Jefferson Community Center (JCC) wanted a wide array of native food-bearing plants to plant in the garden. The JCC also wanted native pollinator plants to put in the recreational field for wildlife and human use. We needed to put the plants and seeds in the ground with good placement, as well as develop signage for the gardens.
Jefferson Community Center in Eureka, California is a gathering place for education, community activism, and revitalization of its urban neighborhood. Formerly the Jefferson Elementary School, it was transformed into the Jefferson Community Center in 2011-2012 by the Westside Community Improvement Association (WCIA) a group of volunteers who built a playground area, fields, and native plant gardens. The JCC is directed by Heidi Benzonelli-Burden, a Humboldt State engineering graduate. For this project, Heidi collaborated with a group of Appropriate technology engineering (ENGR 305) students to design and create a native pollinator field and food-bearing garden for the JCC. The project was completed over the Spring of 2018 and concluded in the display of the project at the annual Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale.
The objective of this project is to develop a native plant garden in the Jefferson Community Center consisting of two parts: a field planted with low-growing native perennials, and a garden with food-bearing, pollinators, and medicinal plants. This will improve the aesthetics of the community center, while providing useful plant products to local residents.
Project Evaluation Criteria
The following Criteria will be used to assess the success of this project. The scale (1-10) represents the importance level of meeting the constraint of each listed criteria.
|Community||Create the ability for students at the JCC and local community members to have access to an area that can bring forth native pollinators and can be used for recreation.|
|Maintainability||The appearance and usability of the garden and field are preserved by regular maintenance, including reseeding of plants which have died.|
|Aesthetics||The layout of plants, their colors, and signage create a visual setting that enhances the community center’s appearance.|
|Educational Aspect||The garden educates students and visitors on the importance of pollinators and native plants to the environment.|
|Safety & Placement||Plants must not be too large at their base so children and adults can run freely through the field. The placement of plants also should not impede movement through the area.|
|Reproducibility||The fields can be mowed which will allow the flowers to self-seed themselves. The process is well documented in clear language so that other people can implement a similar project in their own community.|
|Usability||Ability for plants to grow effectively while also allowing recreational activity to occur.|
|Functionality||Effectively supports pollinators at the Jefferson Community Center, while reseeding all species and creating an area for field related recreational activities.|
|Cost||Must not exceed budget while being able to purchase majority of seeds needed.|
Literature Review for Plant Species and Pollinators
This is a review of the available literature pertinent to the specific project.
Native Pollinating Plant Species
A large majority of flowering plants are dependent on pollinator species, whether they be insect or avian. Pollination is an ecosystem process that has evolved over millions of years to benefit both flowering plants and pollinators. Pollinators visit flowers for many reasons, including feeding, pollen collection, and warmth.  Flowering plants that produce seeds are among the planets most successful life forms and they are the principal providers of nutrients and resources to most other organisms.
Concerns Regarding Native Pollinating Plant Species
Native herbaceous or perennial blooming species dependent on pollination can have the process provided by managed or wild pollinator populations. The honey bee is the most widely used managed pollinator and many crops directly depend on its use. However, it is well known that A. Mellifera (honey bee) workers are inefficient pollinators of some plant species, and alternative managed or wild species may do a better job.  Native and invasive plants clearly share pollinator species. There is some evidence that in spite of pollinator sharing, pollinators prefer the native plant species over the invasive species.
Types of Native Pollinator Plant Species by Season
Every region has its own set of native pollinating plant species. Some more resilient than others, but most have seasonal life spans; this also depends on the climate and precipitation of the region. We break down different plant’s by seasonal flowering and sprouting cycle native to the Humboldt County, Arcata and Eureka areas; sea level. 
Late Winter - Early Spring
- Hairy Manzanita, Arctostaphylos columbiana (extremely important to native bees & hummingbirds)
- Beach strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis
- Wood Strawberry, Fragaria vesca
- Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata (Can continue flowering through summer)
- Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa
- Pacific Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa
- Bush Monkey Flower, Mimulus aurantiacus (flowers all summer into fall)
- Currant & Gooseberry, Ribes spp.
- Fringe Cups, Tellima grandiflora
- White Inside-Out Flower, Vancouveria hexandra
- Yarrow, Achillea millefolium (flowers all summer into fall)
- Clarkia, Clarkia spp.
- Coast Buckwheat, Eriogonum latifolium
- California Leopard Lily, Lilium pardalinum
- Orange Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa
- Bigleaf Lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus
- Riverbank Lupine, Lupinus rivularis
- California Bee Plant, Scrophularia californica
- Checker Mallow, Sidalcea malviflora (long flowering)
- California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
- Coastal Gumweed, Grindelia stricta (long flowering)
- California Goldenrod, Solidago velutina ssp. californica (long flowering)
Literature Review for Interpretive Signage
Interpretive Signage for Gardens
Interpretive signage can be an effective way to communicate information about a garden and the plants contained in it. Signs should serve a clear purpose, whether it is to establish rules for the garden or to highlight particular features of a plant. (The visual design of signs is important to consider, as they must attract attention without cluttering the garden space. The context of the garden informs the design of the signage. A public garden, though an educational setting, is not a formal classroom and should not be overly didactic or provide too much information. Learning for visitors is self motivated and driven by their own interests. 
Benefits and Drawbacks of Signage
There are advantages as well as disadvantages to interpretive signs as an educational tool. One major advantage is that signs can offer specific information by location, enhancing the visitor’s experience of the garden. However, a disadvantage are that they are not interactive, unlike an interpretive guide who can answer visitor questions. Another disadvantage is that they can fall into disrepair if not properly maintained, reducing the visual quality of the garden. Regular maintenance and replacement of damaged signs is necessary. It should be determined before placing signage what the maintenance plan is and who will be responsible. 
Types of signage Interpretive signs may be constructed of a variety of materials. Materials could be quite inexpensive, such as paper or cardboard, or more durable, expensive materials such as wood, metal, or enamel. They may also be either temporary or permanent depending on their purpose. Temporary signs are useful if there is a seasonal component to their usage, or if the garden is under development and it is necessary to experiment with different designs. Permanent signs can be used for year-round features of the garden and for features with a general interest that will attract many visitors. Another option is to have a permanent fixture such as a wood post that has a velcro component which can be used to affix temporary laminated signs.
Designing interpretive signage
Observation of visitors
Before making the sign, observe visitors to find out who the audience is. What are their interests? This will help with determining the goals of the sign. Concept
Brainstorm many ideas. Choose a subject (topic of the sign), theme (main message to convey) and approach (method for conveying the message). Identify areas to place the sign. Find ways to link sign to subject.
Information can be organized in a text hierarchy, moving from higher to lower level. Titles Main ideas Text to explain main ideas Pictures or place to look for additional information Visitors can quickly scan higher levels of text or read lower levels for more detail.
Text should be short and easy to understand Consider level of audience Use active verbs, not passive Make writing personal, engage the reader Testing
Create a draft copy of the sign and observe how visitors respond to it. Look for if people read the sign, if it gets a positive response, and how long they read it for.
Creating the sign
Make a layout out for the sign by cutting and pasting words and images. The theme part of the sign should draw the most attention
Illustrations Can be used to identify subject of the sign, to tell a story, or for decorative purposes
In order for the project to be successful, we needed to inform the public about native pollinator species, and the native species of plants that we planted. This was necessary to educate the local community in attempts promote them to plant native plants for native pollinators as well.
We designed many version of this first prototype, and finally came to a consensus on what we wanted between client and project workers. The picture you see here is the final draft of the prototype sign for the native pollinator field. We also had smaller signs educating people walking by the food bearing garden what types of plants were planted there as well.
After we printed the sign we constructed a housing for it, to hold the sign and kept it upright. We constructed this out of cork board, wood and metal screws.
We created the design for the sign using the Adobe Suite and Free Use Images gathered off of the internet. The text was written by the team, utilizing knowledge we gained through the project. We then printed the sign on matte paper, to 24x36 size. We cut it down to fit in a wooden frame we created and pinned it to cork board. Afterwards we drilled a cross beam on the back of the frame and mounted two wooden legs to the frame to keep it upright.
How to Build
The following is a proposed budget for this project. The majority of the materials, including all of the plants used, have been donated by Heidi Benzonelli-Burden (project lead) and Monty Cade of Lost Foods. Our group will contribute and estimated $50 for creation of interpretive signage for the garden.
|Quantity||Material||Source||Cost ($)||Total ($)|
|30||Native pollinator plants||Lost Foods||Donated||Donated|
|1||Baby blue eyes||Larner Seed Co.||Donated||Donated|
|1||Douglas meadowfoam||Larner Seed Co.||Donated||Donated|
|1||Lee Coastal lawn replacement||Larner Seed Co.||Donated||Donated|
|1||Wooden Signage||SCRAP Humboldt||$8||$8|
Timeline This is a tentative timeline for the actions our team plans to complete the project and when the actions will be completed by. At the time of creating this timeline, we had already completed the actions up to 2/24/18.
|2/11/18||Met with Heidi to get a tour of JCC and develop game plan.|
|2/24/18||Planted native plants adjacent to pathways.|
|3/24/18||Aerate Soil and Prep field for seeding.|
|3/31/18||Seed field with natives|
|4/03/18||Observe Human Interaction with the planted pollinators. Also view how the field is being used and if any conflicts arise from recreation and native growth.|
|4/10/18||Create Interpretive Native Plant Signage|
|May 3rd, 4th, 5th/18||California Native Plant Society- Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale- attend to show off all the hard work our group did.|
This project mostly operates on its own after completion however some upkeep is needed to maintain the health and appearance of the plants. The interpretive signage may also require repair or replacement. Maintenance The plants should be watered on a regular basis, though watering needs vary by type of plant.
Generally, the native pollinator field will not require a large amount of supplemental water. Coastal yarrow, coastal poppy, baby blue eyes, and douglas meadowfoam are drought tolerant plants, and will receive plenty of water from rainfall in the wet climate of the north coast.
Water requirement: low
Max summer water: one time per week
Water requirement: low
Max summer water: 3 times per month
Orange Bush Monkey
Water requirement: very low
Red Flowering Currant
Water requirement: low
Max summer water: 3 times per month
Water requirement: very low - low
Max summer water: 3 times per month
The interpretive signage for the field and garden will experience regular wear and tear. It is important to check on the signage regularly and perform any necessary repairs. The support for the signage, or the sign itself, will likely need to be replaced after a period of time.
Testing Results We tested the visitor perception of the native plant garden and signage at the Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale on May 5th. Through observation and interviewing of attendees, we will determine what changes if any should be made to the signage. The result from our testing was that our signage was that though our client was happy with the design and appearance, the support for the sign was not structurally sound enough to stay in the field.
Discussion The clear result from the testing was that we needed to improve the physical supports for the sign in order to display it on the field. One way to do this would be to place the sign on aluminum which would be stronger and could be affixed more firmly in the ground.
Lessons learned Get an earlier start on the design of interpretive signage in order to have a more complete testing and prototyping process.
Next steps We will create an aluminum structure to hold our design for the native pollinator field sign. We will also finish developing the smaller signage for the food-bearing garden. Following completion of signage, our next steps will be to observe the establishment of the native pollinator field and determine if any further interventions are needed such as application of fertilizer, addition of seeds, or supplemental watering.
Update September 2018
During the Fall semester of 2018, a visit was scheduled to check on the progress of native pollinators and edible landscaping.
Native/Medicinal plants are thriving after some replanting and dry stream beds from Jefferson Community Center native landscaping 2017 are working to prevent swampy conditions that had been a problem.
The majority of the native pollinators and food bearing plants are surviving, but need a rainy season before we can see true success. Many of the plants are still small at this point, but all of the gardens are being regularly maintained by volunteers and other community sources (educational programs, community service). There are open work days on the third Saturday of each month and community members are encouraged to participate.
The results of the pollinator field seeded in spring 2018 are apparent where the excess water from the property has drained in to the field, but the area will be thatched and reseeded shortly before the 2018 rain season begins. At this time, the director intends to add reclaimed soil from local farms to help replenish nutrients and facilitate growth of the pollinators. She is also hoping to make a permanent version of the interpretive sign.
Update September 2019
In Fall of 2019, we visited the Jefferson Community Center to revisit the status of the native pollinators. From what we could tell, the native gardens are thriving and will seemingly continue to as Bill Rodstrom, a local volunteer who helps manage the gardens at the Jefferson Community Center, intends to put more native plants around the landscape. To give a little background on Bill Rodstrom, he has been a part of the native chapter since the 1970s and started the native gardens due to the large decline in butterflies and bees. The native plants within those gardens tend to be the best pollinators for those 2 insects. Bill is doing as much as he can around the center to create habitat for the wildlife around it.
Overall, the project was a good one and it was clear that Bill enjoys gardening and taking care of the plants. The only downside to the plants, though, is that they require quite a bit of maintenance in order to maintain the life of the plants in general.
Gabe Kim Kaitlyn McGinnis
- “Native Pollinators”, information on Native Pollinator Species, https://plants.usda.gov/pollinators/Native_Pollinators.pdf
- America, Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North., National Research. Council, and National Academies Press. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2007.
- Frier, Somers, and Sheffield. "Comparing the Performance of Native and Managed Pollinators of Haskap (Lonicera Caerulea: Caprifoliaceae), an Emerging Fruit Crop." Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 219 (2016): 42-48
- Reid, Autumn Leigh. Morphometric Influence on Pollinator Sharing between Native and Invasive Plant Species along the North Spit of Humboldt Bay, California. 2010.
- This is an example of a named reference. You can use these named references to repeat citation content throughout the document.
- Evans, J. L. (May 2005) “Interactive Exhibit Design in Public Gardens: Theory and Practice”, Master’s Thesis, Cornell University http://dev.cornellplantations.org/sites/default/files/Jenny_Evans_Thesis.pdf
- 2. Konig,M. (2000) Making your Garden Come Alive! Environmental Interpretation in Botanical Gardens. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 9. SABONET, Pretoria. ISBN: 1-919795-50-2 (Chapter 5-6, Interpretive Signage, Making Interpretive Signs) https://www.bgci.org/public-engagement/making_your_garden_come_a/
- Nowatschin, E. L. (May 2014) “Educational Food Landscapes Developing Design Guidelines for School Gardens”, Master’s thesis, The University of Guelph