The Oklahoma Zoo and Botanical Garden recently partnered with Boeing to help an employee-led pollinator project take flight. The Zoo supplied five cubic yards (about the amount that fills a pick-up truck’s bed) of its new premium compost, OKC Zoo Poo, to Boeing for use in the new pollinator garden on the company’s southeast Oklahoma City campus. The compost super charges the soil, improves drainage and provides extra nutrients to help plants grow and take root.
The purpose of the Boeing OKC pollinator garden is to attract and provide habitat for pollinating insects such as bees and monarch butterflies. The garden was initially installed in fall 2018 and is about 500 sq. ft. in size. It is an employee-sponsored project maintained by members of the Boeing Employees Outdoor Adventure Club (BOAC). This week, in conjunction with Earth Day, BOAC members worked in the garden to spread OKC Zoo Poo composted material to help the garden grow.
“We are excited to partner with community leaders like the OKC Zoo in supporting conservation efforts like our pollinator garden,” said Boeing employee Bradley Higginbotham. “We planted a variety of colorful drought tolerant flowers and native milkweeds that will not only beautify the Boeing site, but provide a welcome space for native and migrating insects and conserve water use to ensure that we are doing our part to support these vitally important species and resources.”
OKC Zoo Poo compost starts with nutrient-rich waste left by the Zoo’s herbivores like elephants, rhinos and giraffes. Zoo partner Minick Materials adds a special mixture of microbes to accelerate the composting process, breaking down the waste in about 90 days, depending on the weather. The resulting premium compost is now available for purchase in two sizes: $3.99 for a small bag and $9.99 for a large box that also includes a pollinator seed pack.
Pollinator gardens are a critical tool in the fight to save species like monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators who rely on nectar-bearing plants like milkweed for food. The monarch butterfly population has dropped by over 80 percent in the last 20 years. The main reason for this is habitat loss throughout the monarch's migration and breeding range. Oklahoma City is directly in the path of monarch butterflies’ annual migration. Recognizing the importance of these pollinators and the urgency of restoring their population, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has made planting for monarchs and other pollinators a central conservation platform for 2019.
Learn more about how to help save pollinators and how to take action at OkiesForMonarchs.org.