Shop local, eat local, spend local...plant local?
You shop local, eat local and spend local to benefit the environment and your community - so why aren't you planting local?
Local, or native, plants are those that have been growing naturally in your community for thousands of years. These plants, along with local wildlife, have formed communities of their own, called ecosystems. Ecosystems provide us with free services such as carbon storage, flood/drought mitigation, pollination services, wildlife habitat and much more.
Unfortunately, urbanization is pushing many of these native ecosystems to extinction and some of the only green-spaces left in the typical urban landscapes are home gardens which, traditionally, do very little to replace our lost ecosystems.
Many of the plants that dominate our gardens originate from distant parts of the world such as hostas from Japan or Norway Maple from Europe. While these plants may be grown in local nurseries they originate from far away places and, for the most part, simply don't provide the same quality ecological services that native plants do.
For example, many insects are unable to eat exotic garden plants. Why is this important? Well, 90% of birds require insect protein to feed their young. Fewer native plants means fewer insects which means hungry birds!
This is where our gardens become a powerful tool for change. By planting native plants in our gardens we can create a network of backyard ecosystems to help replace what was lost (and is being lost) to urbanization.
The "local" movement aims to connect people with their food, keep more money in the community and support local businesses.
Similarly, The native plant movement aims to connect people with nature (by inviting it back into their yards), keep more ecological value in the community (ecosystem services) and support local wildlife (such as the bees who pollinate our locally grown food!). The two go hand-in-hand!
As we know from the success of the "local" movement, great change comes from the day-to-day decisions we make in our community. No matter the size of your yard/garden, you have the power to create positive change in your community - all it takes is a "local" way of looking at your garden and it's role in the community.