The Florida Department of Transportation spends about $15 million a year to mow 12,000 miles of state highways. Too much? It's true that, from a safety standpoint, mowing is important. Is it necessary, however, to clear the whole right-of-way when an eight-foot strip will do?
Less is more for our pollinators -- butterflies, bees, and a host of other insects and critters -- because they depend on those natural roadside areas for much-needed habitat. With more land being lost to monoculture farming practices, it is more important than ever to nurture the bright splashes of color that transform a monotonous roadside into a blazing paradise. Thanks to your support, the Florida Wildflower Foundation is helping do just that.
With your help, the Foundation has taken significant steps to striking a more harmonious balance between two worlds that oftentimes seem at odds. Last year, your donations were instrumental in hiring a contractor in the Panhandle to work with the state transportation agency on mowing policy and issues, going so far as to ride with mowing supervisors to point out areas of concern. And it’s working!
Working together paves the way
Where there existed an "us" and "them" mindset, "we" is becoming more the norm. Mowers are even pausing to enjoy the sights along the way, snapping the occasional photo, such as this one taken by mower Kristen Sizemore in Wakulla County. And this spring, travelers in the Panhandle enjoyed the fruit of this collaboration in the most striking and bountiful roadside bloom in years.
Former first lady and longtime wildflower champion Lady Bird Johnson understood wildflowers have a purpose deeper than mere beautification of the landscape. "For me," she said, "it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the man-made world into harmony; to bring order, usefulness – delight – to our whole environment, and that of course only begins with trees and flowers and landscaping.”
Flower-powered food supply
As Lady Bird Johnson knew, it's about more than just beauty. Additional benefits of a less-aggressive mowing program include reduced erosion and vehicle emissions, as well as a significant reduction in maintenance costs. The result? A feast of flowers. Your continued support will help ensure that bees - and other pollinators - have plenty of fueling stations as they traverse the state's highways. And an increase in their food supply is good news for us all, because bees are responsible for every third bite of food we eat.
You can help feed the world's pollinators - and, by extension, yourself and others - by donating to the Florida Wildflower Foundation. Make a contribution by clicking the first Donate button below to make a one-time contribution, or the Subscribe button to give monthly.
Thank you for all you continue to do for native, natural Florida.