Good Neighbor Day to bring pollinator gardens — and more — to the city
By Aanisah Husain
The City of College Park and the University of Maryland (UMD) are partnering once again on Nov. 12 for Good Neighbor Day, a day of service and celebration that strengthens connections throughout the community. This year’s event will be the city’s 11th Good Neighbor Day, an annual tradition interrupted only by the pandemic. The university’s Office of Community Engagement has teamed up with the city’s Bee City USA Committee to create pollinator habitat gardens on campus and at sites throughout the city as part of the committee’s effort to promote sustainability. College Park was certified through the Bee City USA program in 2021.
“That’s what the Bee City program is really about. It’s trying to plant a seed in the City of College Park that sprouts, and the roots reach out and creates a network of people, of partners, of relationships in the city to work together for pollinator conservation,” said Michael Ellis, a horticulturalist with the university.
Ariela Haber has volunteered to oversee installation of the pollinator gardens on Good Neighbor Day. She emphasized the importance of native plants in pollinator gardens and described the importance of balanced habitats in an ecosystem.
“Without one thing, we won’t have anything else,” said Haber, an ecologist. “By putting some of their habitat back where we’ve taken it away, we can give [pollinators] a little bit more food, a little bit more shelter, a little bit more potential nesting sites.”
The College Park Bee City USA Committee encourages homeowners to incorporate native plants, as well. These plants are naturally suited to local gardens, and they provide food and shelter to our pollinators — the birds, bees, small mammals and other wildlife that contribute to the larger ecosystem.
On Good Neighbor Day, volunteers will create pollinator gardens across College Park, including at the College Park Academy, UMD’s Edward St. John Center and American Legion Post 217, on Baltimore Avenue. Gardens will also be installed in the North College Park and Calvert Hills neighborhoods, and at Lake Artemesia. Ellis hopes that the habitats will help heal the earth and promote sustainability.
“We need to be trying to heal the earth in every space that we can,” he said. “Efforts that we start on Good Neighbor Day are efforts that we continue,” he added.
Ellis and Haber also noted that some pollinators, including a number of species of bees, are on the verge of extinction.
Good Neighbor Day events will take place throughout the city, with more than 40 service projects, workshops and donation drives scheduled. Activities will address not only sustainability, but food insecurity, education, social justice, and issues of aging and mental health, as well. There will even be a hands-on class for those who want to learn how to ride a bike. The action-packed day will also feature a food drive and a meal-packing session at IKEA sponsored by Terps Against Hunger
Events will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 12, and everyone in the community is invited to participate. For additional information and to register, go to oce.umd.edu/good-neighbor-day.