Where are They Now: Living Coast Discovery Center Feed a Bee Planting Update

Ben Vallejos, Executive Director

Living Coast Discovery Center Pollinator GardenMuch has happened at the Living Coast Discovery Center in San Diego, California, since receiving the Feed a Bee forage grant in 2017. The Center focuses on providing students educational opportunities, as well as increasing knowledge of coastal environments and how members of the community coexist with the resources of San Diego Bay. Thanks to this grant, along with local community members, foundations and corporations, we have been able to further our mission and establish our Native Pollinator Garden, which has made a significant impact on our guests and community over the past year.

However, our beautiful 10,000 square-foot garden space, home to more than 700 native plants, displays, structures and pollinators, almost never saw the light of day!

In the original days of installation during the spring of 2017, a series of challenges, including drought, parasites and hungry rabbits, threatened the success of the garden. Receiving the Feed a Bee grant enabled us to purchase new plants and replace those damaged. The Living Coast has since added small fencing around the plants for rabbits and other wildlife that also like to forage on the pollinator-attractant plants.

Regardless of these challenges, plants continue to thrive, and pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds can be seen and heard throughout the garden. As the garden serves as an education tool for guests, our staff also continues to learn how to best serve these new critters that call our land home.

Eighty-thousand guests of all ages visit the Living Coast Discovery Center annually, including 25,000 K-12 students. These students take part in various educational programs, such as Living Lab field trips and Wildlife day camps. The Native Pollinator Garden created additional spaces for students to get outdoors and learn about the importance of pollinators in our region through dedicated classes, such as our Perfect Pollinators course. During this program, second graders visit the Center to learn about pollination and the importance of these creatures to plants. They experience these lessons through hands-on activities and role playing as flowers and bees. They also get up close with plants and a tortoise to learn about seed dispersal and how non-bee wildlife plays an important role in pollination.

Living Coast Discovery Center Pollinator Sign

Over the past year, volunteers in the local community helped to maintain the garden by adding more plants while the nest house, boulders and other structures were installed. The grand opening in summer 2017 culminated with the installation of a shade structure and visual displays. To my delight, students and families are frequently seen exploring the pollinator garden to learn about our coastal ecosystem, the importance of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and bats, and what they can do to protect these important species by planting their own native garden at home.