Written by: Rome Marinelli, Naturalist at The Inn at Honey Run
I’m honored to work at The Inn at Honey Run for many reasons – the biggest reason being that we are doing so much to better provide for pollinators.
For roughly 5 years now I have studied pollinator-plant relationships and the importance and role of native habitats. Through this time, I have come to understand that we must do something to balance our lifestyles with that of nature; live in harmony. I deeply align myself with a quote from Ronald Sider which says, “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something and together we can change the world.” It’s true. Collective actions, even small ones, add up to a big impact.
Here at The Inn, we have a lot of opportunity for pollinators to thrive. Right off the bat, we’re located within a great and healthful forest. The forest floor showcases beautiful native wildflowers which provide forage for pollinators. The leaf litter (which isn’t “litter”) and the standing or fallen dead and rotting trees provide great shelter for pollinators (and food for consumers). This alone is a bountiful haven for biodiversity!
In addition, The Inn installed a great native meadow that can be found in front of the Honeycombs. I’m having an enjoyable time seeing the Penstemon bloom now. Soon, the Monarda will be blooming! This habitat and woodland is a 1-2 combo!
But wait, there’s more! The owner recently spoke with me regarding hopes of expanding our upper sheep barn pasture. As someone who understands the importance of native habitat, I wanted to see if there was any research done on the benefits of native plants and sheep foraging. Can sheep get the same nutrition from some of our native plants? Typically, sheep graze on a seed/plant mixture that is mostly non-native to Ohio which means specialist pollinators (those that need specific plants to survive) have even less choice. I was ecstatic to find a case study by Penn State which explored the nutritional benefits of native plants for sheep (and other farm animal). (Source: https://extension.psu.edu/plant-diversity-to-extend-the-grazing-season)
While new, our native pasture is developing nicely. We will be sowing various native forbs and grasses this winter. Some species include Desmodium canadense, Andropogon gerardii, Elymus virginicus, Heliopsis helianthoides, Senna hebecarpa, and many more. The pasture will be cropped out as to allow more interactions for guests with our ewes. I will be keeping the sheep on an intense rotation (leaving them in one section of the pasture for a one to a few days) as to maintain the integrity of the native plants. I’m beyond excited for the progression of this new habitat/meadow/pasture.
Until next time,