Greener Village Community Food Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick is doing its part to help the declining monarch butterfly population. Led by Executive Director, Elizabeth Crawford Thurber, the centre created a ‘raise and release’ program this year. It’s part of the greater awareness of this local food visionary.Listen
Elizabeth Crawford Thurber explains the history of Greener Village, and the evolution from food bank to community centre. With the purchase of a nursery that provided greenhouses and space in 2011, it followed an enlightened trajectory. From helping people feed their families the centre then opened 56 community garden beds and taught people how to grow their own vegetables. The next step was instructions in how to prepare and cook them. This centre operates with the big picture in mind.
“It’s really important now to understand beneficial insects and how they help in our food production”
This is the first time the centre is participating in the larger national and international movement to protect the monarch butterfly from the many threats to its survival. Crawford Thurber says it’s all part of the cycle of food production. “It’s really important now to understand beneficial insects and how they help in our food production.” The centre began growing milkweed in Janauary.
The monarchs did not make it on their own from Mexico all the way to New Brunswick this year. Crawford Thurber says a variety of events challenged the migration, from fires in Texas to a loss of milkweed on the route, milkweed being essential to the monarch life-cycle, to the ongoing deforestation in Mexico. So the team at Greener Village brought in 200 eggs and little worms. Now they are in the second hatching, and each day they’re releasing and tagging 7 or 8 butterflies.
“They fly on the waves of air and they’ve been seen at 10,000 feet by air pilots”
For Crawford Thurber monarch butterflies are amazing creatures. “They fly on the waves of air and they’ve been seen at 10,000 feet by air pilots” she says. “When you release them they will stay around your gardens and you’ll see them for many, many days, they come and go… and to feel that you’ve had a connection to something that really is in the wild to me is an amazing feeling”. Crawford Thurber says she will take the experience with her forever.
At Greener Village the motivation is about education in the community and a way to engage children. The only thing that might top the raise and release program, is knowing that one of their butterflies reached their destination in Mexico.