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Bees Are The Focus For Kirkwood’S Earth Day

Photo by Diana Linsley, Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Photo by Diana Linsley, Webster-Kirkwood Times.

By Don Corrigan Webster-Kirkwood Times)

Experts from more than 20 green organizations will be ready to tell you about the “birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees,” at Kirkwood’s 7th annual Earth Day on Apri1 16.

Most activities will be focused in the Farmer’s Market Greenway area, although an Arbor Day tree planting ceremony across from the city’s train station will get things started at 9 a.m.  Kirkwood in Bloom will contribute a landscape-sized Wildfire black tupelo tree for the occasion.

Read more about the honey bees struggle and Kirkwood’s Earth Day below. Also, hear Bill Ruppert share what you’ll find at the event.

“Kirkwood Urban Forestry and the Downtown Kirkwood Special Business District will be a big part of the tree planting event,” said Walter Smith, who’s with Kirkwood Living Green and one of the organizers of the Earth Day events in the Green Tree City.

“In just a few short years, Kirkwood’s Earth Day has already earned a great reputation,” said Smith. “Lots of green organizations now know about our event’s popularity, so it’s not hard to get them to participate.”

The theme of Kirkwood Earth Day 2016 is “The Beauty of the Bees,” and there will be experienced bee keepers to explain how to get your own backyard beehive buzzing. Additional bee experts will wax eloquently on topics such as harvesting honey, growing the right native plants to attract the little buzzers, and how to cultivate a garden that bees will appreciate.

Some people think of bees as simply a summertime nuisance. However, nature’s tiny workers put food on the table, from apples to almonds to the pumpkin in our Thanksgiving pies.

A serious situation known as Colony Collapse Disorder is causing bee populations to plummet. In the U.S. alone, more than 25 percent of the managed bee population has disappeared since 1990. That decline puts food supplies at risk.

Kirkwood Living Green’s Smith said Bill Ruppert, an award-winning horticulturist and an active member of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, came up with the theme to promote pollinators at this year’s Earth Day

Smith said Ruppert is devoted to pollinators like bees, which transfer pollens and seeds from one flower to another, thus fertilizing plants so that they can grow and produce food. Pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of wild plants to survive and thrive.

       Birds – and Bees

Of course, honey bees and bumblebees are not the only pollinators taking flight this time of year. Birds also do their part on the pollination front. Kirkwood Earth Day is paying due deference to our feathered friends by highlighting the work of Margy Terpstra, otherwise known as “The Bird Lady of Kirkwood.”

Terpstra will be on hand much of the day on April 16, but visitors to Earth Day can meet with her at the Farmer’s Market at a special 10 a.m. presentation. Terpstra may be best known for her marvelous ideas on putting together wildflower gardens.

“Margy Terpstra has a magnificent garden at her home in Kirkwood that attracts all types of birds,” Smith noted. “Besides that, she is just an amazing photographer and has captured some incredible images of birds in her garden.

“She also gives presentations to state conservation groups showing her vast knowledge of birds of Missouri,” added Smith. “It’s going to be fun to have her at our Earth Day.”

Terpstra’s own wildflower garden in Kirkwood is intentionally designed to to attract hummingbirds. Terpstra said the birds began finding her garden in a big way about mid-September and she always has a tripod and camera ready to catch them in mid-air.

Terpstra’s horticulture habits and growing expertise in photographing bird species has gotten her invites to the annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She has been a speaker for their past programs.

“The annual Audubon hummingbird event there can attract 8,000 people  or more,” Terpstra told the Times in a 2013 profile. “They have feeders going and wildflowers blooming; it’s hard to guess or to try to count how many hummingbirds they have attending.

“Strawberry Plains is a fantastic 2,500-acre wildlife habitat,” added Terpstra. “It’s kind of a sanctuary for our disappearing grasslands and wetlands. I love presenting there and I’ve kind of learned about the gratification of sharing knowledge about nature.”

Terpstra will share her knowledge of nature at Kirkwood Earth Day, along with many others, including Maddie Earnest, manager of the new GROW Exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center.

       GROW Exhibition

Some residents may be familiar with Earnest as the co-founder and co-owner of Local Harvest Grocery and Café in St. Louis. Her interest in local foods stems back to the family garden of her youth and the environmental courses she took in college.

Earnest is co-author along with Liz Fathman of “Missouri Harvest,” which   provides a regional look at farming, farming practices, and even some cooking tips and recipes. The book shows that Missouri farmers produce an amazing variety of foods: vegetables, grains, fruits, meats and dairy items.

Obviously, Earnest brings a lot to the table when she comes to events like Kirkwood Earth Day. On April 16, she will be promoting the new GROW Exhibit at the Science Center.

“We’re excited that the GROW Exhibit at the Science Center, will be a at Earth Day to educate people about the many facets of agriculture,” said Ruppert of Kirkwood. “Today’s urban society is far removed from the practice of growing our food and this exhibit will educate all age groups, from a science-based position, on the diverse forms of agriculture.”

The actual food exhibit at St. Louis Science Center will open this summer, according to Ruppert. An advocate of fresh eggs from backyard chickens,  Ruppert will give his hens, “his girls,” a day off on Kirkwood Earth Day.

“I will be representing Grow Native! and the Grow Native initiatives such as Monarch Café, Pollinator Buffet and the Missouri Invasive Exotic Plant Species Task Force,” Ruppert said.

“Thanks to the efforts of the St. Louis Zoo, the Grow Native Pollinator Buffet, the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and St. Louis County’s Project Pollinator, much attention this year will be directed toward the importance of honeybees and native pollinators,” added Ruppert. “And there will be information about how to become a pollinator steward.”

Bill Ruppert shares what you will find at the Kirkwood Earth Day:

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