By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The effort to create more pollinator gardens across the state is getting additional funding to get more people interested and involved.

The Lawns to Legumes program offers up to $300 to cover the cost of planting a pollinator habitat in your yard. It’s one way to be friendly to a population in decline.

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“They are fun to watch grow and the bees love them, especially the native plants,” said Kerry McIndoo.

For the past 10 years, McIndoo has been the keeper of bees.

“The more pollinating plants we have in the urban area the better,” McIndoo said.

He knows how important these native plants are to the survival of our pollinating friends so he is in favor of any effort to increase the amount of gardens that support them.

“Individual residents really can play an important role for pollinators,” said Dan Shaw.

Shaw says the grants are one way to get people interested in creating a pollinator habitat in their yard. Up to a $300 dollar grant can be yours if you want your yard to be friendly.

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“Anybody in the state, any resident can apply for this program by going to the Blue Thumb Planting for Clean Water website,” said Shaw.

It’s a competitive grant. Last year 7,500 people applied, proving the demand for more funding. An additional $2 million helps extend the program to more bee-loving Minnesotans.

“We also have workshops, we have technical resources that are available for this program. We’re really trying to help as many residents get started as possible,” Shaw said.

Shaw says Minnesota’s state bee, the rusty patched bumble bee’s population has declined 80% in the past 20 years.

He knows planting pollinator gardens, especially in urban areas is one way to help them thrive. It’s also a way to beautify your yard.

“That’s absolutely the reason I have the plants, because it gives the yard form and structure and the flowers bring beauty, and it’s just a joy to look out on every day of the summer,” McIndoo said.

Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2022. Funding notifications are emailed a month later.

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Metro Blooms will have a booth at the State Fair outside the Eco Experience if you want to see firsthand how it all looks.

Reg Chapman