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Local Gardens Get A Boost From Student’s App

Populations of monarch butterflies and other pollinators have declined sharply. A 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy’s software invention is helping to address the problem

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications

NAZARETH PA – Fruit and vegetable gardeners across Montgomery County, and anyone nationwide who raises crops for a living, are getting new help from a 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy in their efforts to stop the decline of pollinating insects.

Pollinators are responsible for one third of the nation’s food supply. “Busily visiting flowers throughout the day, to sip nectar and collect pollen for its protein and other nutritional qualities, (these insects) also carry along pollen from one plant to another, thereby aiding in the production of seeds and future plants,” the county Planning Commission blog explains.

Pollinators have been threatened in recent years by a loss of habitat, parasites, and the use of pesticides. A contest called “The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge” was launched in 2015 to help reverse the trend. It’s received a boost from Kedar Narayan, a young coding whiz from Nazareth PA.

“I created an app called ‘Pollinator For A Pet’ to teach us how to create native pollinator gardens so that we can provide pollinators food, water, shelter and safety,” Narayan said. Over two years about 650,000 pollinator gardens have been created nationwide, and the challenge hopes to reach its million-garden goal by this year’s end.

Narayan won national recognition for his smartphone app. This year he claimed first place in his age group in the Paradigm Challenge sponsored by Project Paradigm, a private foundation that supports innovators.

Narayan said he sees adults doing their part to help, and that inspired him to put his talents to work to bring younger generations in on the effort. “I see potential in us kids to do our part, too,” he noted. “Together we can create a new ecosystem, one that will become the United States of Pollinators.”

More than 50 national partners, including seven federal agencies, are now involved in the challenge to create pollinator gardens and restore critical insect populations nationwide. Their importance was the highlight of a Montgomery County Beekeepers’ Association “Pollinator Garden Tour” in June. The group’s members visited pollinator attractions created by Dan and Rebecca Boylan in Pottstown, and Regina Rhoa in Collegeville.

From window boxes to garden plots and converted lawns, every little bit helps, according to Mary Phillips, senior director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. Efforts now range from “very small to very big,” she reported. “Some of these are creating tremendous acres of habitat, and others are kind of connecting corridors across urban settings. Both of those approaches are equally valuable.”

Photo by bbarlow via Pixabay

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