Northridge garden awarded national butterfly sanctuary designation

It started off as a modest garden project in 2013 with a few rows of vegetables and flowers. Three years later, the Northridge Campus garden has been designated a Monarch Migratory Waystation Habitat by MonarchWatch.org, one of the nation’s largest research and data collection groups for monarch butterfly migration and protection.

NRG_garden_extra1“In the beginning it was a simple way to beautify the campus by adding a variety of regional, drought-tolerant plants and flowers,” says Kathryn Watts-Martinez, ACC photography professor and co-founder of the Northridge garden. “It’s amazing to think that in Central Texas we live in one of the largest migration highways for birds and insects traveling biannually from Mexico to Canada. I hope our efforts, in some small way, will contribute to the monarchs’ conservation.”

The campus garden has grown to include 48 raised flowerbeds, 30 container planters, and a vegetable garden plot. Twenty-five college departments contribute to its upkeep.

“Knowing what to plant and the impact it could have on our environment was a critical component,” says Watts-Martinez. “We hand-picked plants that are known to provide a sustainable variety of food and habitat for the monarch butterflies.”

nrggardenmonarchsignThe group waited through two growing seasons to ensure the plants would survive and attract the butterflies.

“Once it looked like plants were returning and we already saw caterpillars and their chrysalis we knew it was time to apply,” says Watts-Martinez.

The campus is now included in the national registry as a monarch migration waystation.

For more information on the Northridge garden project, contact Watts-Martinez at katwm@austincc.edu or 512-223-4707, or visit nrggardengroup.wordpress.com.

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