The Mill at Shelburne Falls participates in No Mow May to support pollinator health

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-26-2023 6:21 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — Many have let their lawns go wild this month in observance of the growing movement called “No Mow May.”

While participating lawns are often private yards, The Mill at Shelburne Falls also decided to participate.

Building owner Brad Walker was ready to mow his roughly 3 acres of land at 49 Conway St. at the start of the month. But, inspired by the four colonies of bees that Mattie’s Farm and Apiary placed on the property, he asked his tenants if they would support holding off on mowing.

Twenty-four of the 25 tenants Walker consulted agreed that No Mow May was a good idea, or were indifferent to participating, so he let the grass and weeds grow. Many of the tenants are environmentally conscious, such as The Permaculture Place. Led by Kay Cafasso Parker, The Permaculture Place is designed to be a resource center where visitors can learn about permaculture, which Cafasso Parker describes as “ethical design to meet human needs while at the same time restoring, repairing and enhancing the natural world.”

“The bees love it. They are growing quickly,” Matt Guertin of Mattie’s Farm and Apiary said of the impact of The Mill at Shelburne Falls’ participation in No Mow May. He explained he placed the bees at The Mill so they could forage at the nearby Bridge of Flowers, but the closer bounty on The Mill lawns is keeping his bees happy as well.

There has been significant community support around the establishment not mowing its lawn. During a recent craft market, visitors commented that it was “cool” that The Mill was participating in No Mow May and that it could possibly inspire other businesses to follow suit, Walker said.

“It is an experiment for the environment,” he said. “It is letting people know it is OK to not have a pristine lawn.”

No Mow May and the conservation initiative was popularized by the United Kingdom charity Plantlife and is gaining traction all over the world. Not mowing lawns allows weeds like Dutch clover and dandelions to flourish, in turn helping native pollinators.

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However, there’s plenty more that people can do to support pollinators, like converting lawn into native pollinator gardens, avoiding pesticides, raising the cutting height on the mower and mowing less frequently.

Guertin said people who participate in No Mow May are often surprised by the variety of flowers that will spring up on your lawn just by not mowing for a month. As for advice for how to help pollinators beyond May, he suggested residents do their research when gardening to make sure they’re planting native species that help pollinators.

“When I first saw my neighbors doing this, I thought they were unkempt,” Walker said. “Now I know to wait to mow.”

Reach Bella Levavi
at 413-930-4579 or
blevavi@recorder.com.

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