Oconomowoc school farm grows pollinator habitat, awareness

photo of student working in field

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Oconomowoc High School students are part of a national effort to establish a pollinator habitat.

“This is the real deal,” said Marge Waite, who has taught agricultural and plant science courses in Oconomowoc since the 1980s. “It’s a timely project that people are interested in.”

Thanks to grants from the Sand County Foundation, the Monarch Joint Venture and additional support in Wisconsin from the We Energies Foundation, Oconomowoc was one of 16 Wisconsin and Minnesota school districts that helped grow native prairie plants that sustain endangered insect pollinators and monarch caterpillars, according to a news release from the Sand County Foundation.

Insect pollinators and monarch butterflies are essential for crop pollination and ecological diversity. They are at risk partly due to loss of farmland habitat. The pilot project encourages schools with greenhouses to grow vegetation such as red milkweed, compass plants, rattlesnake master and purple coneflower, and transplant them in rural areas. Oconomowoc High School fit the bill with a commercial greenhouse and a 74-acre school farm.

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