Wilton students sell native plants

The Wilton High School Organic Garden will hold a pre-order native plant sale through April 24.

The Wilton High School Organic Garden will hold a pre-order native plant sale through April 24.

Contributed photo / Wilton High School

WILTON — Wilton High School’s Garden Club is the first in the New England — let alone Connecticut — to join the EcoType Project, which is an effort to increase the number of native plants growing in the region.

Club members are teaming up with local groups to help support a new initiative including the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeastern Organic Farmers Association (CT NOFA) as well as the Wilton Conservation Land Trust and the Pollinator Pathway.

Wilton High School senior Brett Gilman has met with members of these groups to learn more about the project and to take action. Most recently, he has led the club in growing wildflower seedlings and has organized a partnership with Planters Choice Nursery LLC of Newtown to hold a native pollinator plant sale this spring.

Plants may be ordered online through April 24 for pickup on May 9 at the high school at 395 Danbury Road. The order form is available at https://forms.gle/go5AnJTYL96ifENu7. The plants for sale, which are being sold as plugs, include blue wood aster, joe pye weed, wild bergamot, beardtongue, short-toothed mountain mint, narrowleaf mountain mint and New York ironweed.

The goals of the EcoType Project are to educate people about the native wildflowers that grow in this area as well as get people interested in planting them to help improve natural ecosystems. The sale is an effort by students to enable residents to plant native wildflowers in their yards to help support the Pollinator Pathway here in Wilton as well as improve the habitat for native species of birds, butterflies, and bees.

Additionally a portion of each plant purchased will go to help the Wilton High School Organic Garden, which not only is working to actively improve the habitat in Wilton but also produces food for the high school cafeteria.

In addition to the plant sale, the students will use some of the extra plants in their own butterfly garden and around town so they can monitor their growth and distribution. They will also have access to native seed stock, which they can harvest and grow for future years. This will afford students an ongoing research opportunity and also a way to document and prove the positive things that happen when people plant natives.

“Wilton Land Conservation Trust, a founding organization of the CT Pollinator Pathway, is thrilled to partner with the Wilton High School Garden Club,” said Donna Merrill, executive director of the land trust. “Providing landowners with the native plants that support our insects gives our entire town the chance to be part of the Pollinator Pathway. I find it so exciting to watch the students be the educators. By making the right plants available for our bees and butterflies they’re proving that what each of us do in our own backyards makes a difference.”

According to CT NOFA, “Our initiative exists at the intersection of farms, gardens, land trusts, and public lands. We aim to increase the number of native plants growing in our region. To do this, we are growing seed crops of Connecticut’s native pollinator plants, wild collected from our open-spaces, and bringing them to our nursery growers and homeowners so that we can produce the plants to restore native pollinator habitat.”

For information on the Wilton High School Organic Garden, visit http://whsorganicgarden.weebly.com.