Greer’s Garden abuzz with bees, natural plants

Jul 24, 2021

 Greer’s Garden, a micro-orchard and pollinator garden located at the Chase Road headquarters of the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, is now open to the public.

The garden, named in honor of Dr. J. Greer McBratney and located at 318 Chase Road, serves as a living example of what a healthy backyard ecosystem can look like, the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust reports. The garden features native plants that provide food for wildlife and pollinators throughout all seasons.

TerraCorps Service Member Bruce Traban oversaw the creation of this orchard and garden as one of his capacity-building projects, which is a major goal of the TerraCorps service program. Traban worked closely with Robert Gegear, UMass Dartmouth professor and founder of the Beecology Project, to carefully choose plants well suited for the Helfand Farm location.

The plants selected are all native to New England and provide food and nectar for declining bee species, including short, medium, and long-tongued bees.

In addition to working with Gegear at Helfand Farm, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust continues to partner with UMass Dartmouth to study and identify declining pollinators. Several Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust properties are being monitored and planted with native species. 

Traban also worked with Susie Humphrey, a local landscaper and Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust volunteer, who assisted with the design, layout, and planting of the garden.

Traban stated that the creation of Greer’s Garden was “a rewarding experience” and said he looks forward to “coming back, watching everything grow, and helping out in the garden” after his TerraCorps service term ends. 

Greer’s Garden also features a 500-foot handicapped accessible trail that meanders through the native flora. Although a relatively short trail, it marks the beginning of Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust’s long road towards making its outdoor spaces more accessible, the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust reports.

Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust will host another TerraCorps Service Member in late 2021-2022. One of that service member’s capacity-building projects will be to assess all 40 miles of trails across 19 reserves for accessibility.

“Since moving our offices to Helfand Farm six years ago, I’ve had this idea,’’ said Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust Land Manager Linda Vanderveer. “After many years of dreaming of being able to have a wildlife orchard and garden, Bruce has helped us realize this vision. He’s done a great job. We couldn’t have done it without him and we couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Other garden highlights include an antique potato digger, a bench created by Paige Durant for her Girl Scout Gold Award, a bird bath donated by Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust  volunteer Mary Dewar, and a “tree cookie” table handcrafted by Richard Tabors with a slice of an oak tree that was cut at Parson’s Reserve.