November 21, 2023 | Erin Keller for Travel Phoenix Oregon

Pollinator Project Rogue Valley’s From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Garden (FFFPG) program plays a crucial role in community and ecological restoration. It addresses various needs, such as creating aesthetically pleasing gardens for neighbors affected by fires, offering a way for community members to support those who have lost homes and gardens, and educating the public on the significance of native plants and pollinators. Additionally, it provides valuable learning opportunities for students, contributes to the connectivity of native habitats, and supplies essential food and habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. The program also integrates with the organization’s Buzzway initiative, enhancing its overall impact.

In response to the devastating Almeda and Obenchain fires of 2020, numerous community members not only lost their homes but also their gardens. Facing challenges in rebuilding, many are unaware of the benefits of pollinator gardens. Recognizing this need, Kristina Lefever, President of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley (PPRV), conceived the FFFPG program.

Pollinteers planting Patti’s garden. Photo courtesy of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley.

Under this vision, recipients actively participate in creating their new native-plant pollinator gardens at minimal or no cost. Notably, these gardens are designed and installed by skilled landscape designers. The program engages community members and schools in hands-on learning, fostering recovery for both people and habitat in the aftermath of fires.

Crucially, the FFFPG program contributes to the  ‘Rogue Buzzway’ by establishing a native-plant, pollinator corridor through the Rogue Valley, with future connections to the Cascade Siskiyou Monument.

The program is making a tangible difference thanks to the dedication of the PPRV team. The process involves initial meetings with fire-impacted homeowners to discuss the importance of native pollinator gardens and define their goals. Coordinators Tiina Beaver and Vanessa Henson assist residents in creating sustainable, long-term plans. The PPRV team, including Pollinteers and community members, then implement sheet mulching for soil improvement and weed suppression. Once the sheet mulch decomposes, the team returns with native plants, tools, and equipment to establish the new pollinator garden.

To enhance the experience, homeowners receive a customized garden guide with instructions and information to aid in learning about and maintaining their new gardens.

Andi being presented with her garden’s Garden Guide by Vanessa. Photo courtesy of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley.

As of November 2023, the FFFPG program has successfully supported 11 homeownersby planting more than 350 native plants representing over 125 species. Five of the 11 gardens are in Phoenix. With six gardens scheduled – three of them in Phoenix – over the next six months, the program continues to grow.

This initiative relies on the invaluable contributions of Pollinteers and support from the community. The Gordon Elwood Foundation generously provided some initial funding and encouragement, as has ACCESS and Indigo Creek Outfitters. Plant Oregon provides donated and/or deeply discounted native shrubs, trees, and flowering plants, as does Shooting Star Nursery. C3 Enterprise and Constant Gardener bring expertise, equipment, coordination, and guidance to the program. The ongoing success of the FFFPG program hinges on the generosity of donors, sponsors, and partners. Pollinator Project Rogue Valley invites businesses, organizations, and schools to get involved, make donations, become sponsors, or offer services. Visit the From Fire to Flowers Pollinator Garden webpage and sign up to be part of this impactful initiative.