Ann Lankford, Martinsville, Ind., had an idea when she heard about Bayer’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. She loves monarch butterflies and grows milkweed to support them, and even hatches them in her screened-in back porch each summer. Meanwhile, her neighbors, Tracy and Christina Hunter, operate a honey farm and agritourism business. Why not apply for a grant so the Hunters could plant more milkweed and educate more people about butterflies? It sounded like a win-win.
Apparently, it did to the committee at Bayer, too. Customers nominate worthy causes each year, and typically there is one winner in each county Bayer serves. Usually, farmers nominate FFA chapters, 4-H groups or other nonprofit causes. Lankford’s nomination was unique, but it was right on target when it came to both promoting monarch butterfly populations and educating non-farm people about what farmers do for the environment.
“We were excited when Ann told us about the idea, and we were especially excited to learn she obtained the grant,” Tracy Hunter says. The official announcement was made in October.
Because the grant needs to go through a nonprofit group, Lankford discussed the project with the Morgan County Community Foundation. Officials agreed to be the conduit for funds. Hunter plans to plant more milkweed in 2021 to attract monarch butterflies. It’s the only plant that monarch larvae feed upon. Less milkweed in natural surroundings compared to decades ago makes it important to grow milkweed or preserve milkweed patches, so monarch butterfly larvae have habitat where they can feed.
The Hunters offer tours as part of their agritourism program. Starting this summer, Hunter says they will include more information about monarch butterflies on the tour. They’re also constructing a special area where people can watch butterflies and other wildlife as part of the project. Everything should be in place later this year, Hunter says.
Do you have a unique idea? Or maybe you just want to support your local 4-H or FFA group. Check out Bayer’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities. Find all the information you need at americasfarmers.com.