B.E.E. (Birmingham Eastside EcoGardens), Birmingham, AL
Featured Site Created By B.E.E. (Birmingham Eastside EcoGardens)
Birmingham Eastside EcoGardens is an inspiring community garden. B.E.E is a place where humans, birds, bees, butterflies, and numerous other wildlife can interdependently thrive. Food crops are growing amongst the wildflowers, medicinal herbs are planted alongside orchards, and homes for bats, birds, and bees, are sprinkled around the landscape. Explore their process to create this biodiverse habitat.
What work has been done to improve this site for birds and other wildlife? How long did it take?
B.E.E. (Birmingham Eastside EcoGardens) is not a typical community garden. It is a biodiverse ecosystem of plants and wildlife. We have community garden beds, culinary and medicinal herbs, a native orchard, pollinator meadow, a greenway trail…and more. We are redefining urban farming, community, and relationships with nature.
We have added over 100 different species of plants and herbs that attract pollinators, repair soil, and are beneficial to wildlife. We’ve created more habitats such as leaving snags and installing houses for birds, bats, and native bees, and we’ve brought in host plants for butterflies and other wildlife. We’ve seen an increase in rabbits, hawks, owls, skinks, frogs, and more.
What are some successes that you've seen since the improvements were made? (alternatively, "What are you most proud of, or excited to share about this site?")
By establishing more native plants, we are suppressing the growth of invasive species and inviting the wildlife to return. It is wonderful to see the different habitats develop, like the native orchard, next to the pollinator meadow, and our wooded trail along Village Creek. We’ve learned to allow nature to flourish throughout the seasons, rather than trying to keep the whole space manicured.
Are there any tough decisions that had to be made regarding its management? How were they handled?
We’ve encountered challenges with maintaining two acres with a handful of volunteers, no funding, and rainwater cisterns as our only source of water. We have, however, learned to work with nature and remain an off-the-grid, natural garden. We’ve decided to minimize our need to overly manage our landscapes and, instead, spend more time observing nature’s interactions.
Also, being a public space, we are mindful of maintaining open pathways and trash cans, while creating educational signs for visitors. Another aspect is dealing with well-intentioned visitors unknowingly clearing a native habitat, or pulling “weeds” that were intentionally planted or left. We have learned that education is the most important aspect of all that we do, and how to implement the education is a constant challenge. We are working to develop more signage and host more classes and community events while maintaining our social media presence.
What is your favorite bird or wildlife spotting?
The sound of the wildlife is abundant and amazing. The choruses of frogs, birds, and other insects fill our gardens. There is constant activity with bats flying over the native food forests at dusk, hawks swooping down to hunt a mouse, the gulf fritillary caterpillars on the passion flower leaves, and busy, buzzing, native bees doing what they do best.
Get in touch:
find us on Facebook as BEE