Monarch Mile: Pollinators Plant Seeds of Change

March 9, 2018

3 Master Water Stewards working in pollinator gardenAlong a unique stretch of East 50
th Street in Minneapolis, the Adirondack chairs, pink flamingos and screened porches nestled into the mid-winter snow hold promise of impending spring. Beneath the blanket of snow lie a series of dormant boulevard pollinator gardens dubbed the Monarch Mile, waiting to emerge for their first full growing season. As the community project literally blossoms this spring, the beauty and life above the ground will serve as a poignant reminder of the unseen water quality effect of the native pollinator plant roots below the soil.

One individual who had a hand in planting the gardens is Arun Hejmadi, who lives near Lake Nokomis just a few houses off the Monarch Mile project. Arun has a special appreciation for clean water. “I grew up in India where water is a precious commodity,” he explains. “Eighty percent of the water comes during the monsoon. I also lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years, where we were always on the edge of a drought.”  Living in those arid places helped him to understand that, as he says, “very simply, water is life.” 

Against that backdrop of scarcity, Arun and his wife moved to Minnesota eight years ago to be with their daughter and granddaughter. He was excited to learn that Minnesota was not only the “land of 10,000 lakes” but also home to the headwaters of five rivers, a dramatic contrast to his previous surroundings.  

“When I came here I was both pleasantly surprised and a little shocked,” he says. “Some of the water was so grubby. I looked at the lakes and wouldn’t eat a fish out of some of them. But the other thing that caught my attention was that Minnesota was also very water conscious, the only state in the union to pass a Water Legacy Act.”

Arun decided to take action. He enrolled in a water stewardship training program at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, then learned about a new project in his neighborhood called the Monarch Mile. The vision was for a community-based effort to bridge the area between the Nokomis NatureScape (on the east shore of Lake Nokomis) and the Gateway Gardens (a mile to the east and just across from Minnehaha Falls) with a series of pollinator gardens along East 50th Street.

[Read more at Clean Water MN]