CommonWealth Urban Farms received a grant for creating pollinator gardens from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Oklahoma County Conservation District. Meet our pollinator project intern.
Andrew Johnson came to Oklahoma in 2012 from Owensboro, KY., to study music at University of Central Oklahoma. Guitar was his primary instrument as he studied music performance and music production. He graduated in 2016.
Performing music “is a hobby now.” Two programs, each concerned with natural systems, have drawn his attention.
When back problems were debilitating, Andrew discovered a movement therapy that re-educates the body to support itself. After his own rehab using the Foundation Training, he became a trainer himself and now has his own practice in Oklahoma City.
After a long drive he noticed there was very little bug-splatter on his windshield, he investigated and learned that the world’s insect population has decreased by 70 percent. With an affinity for moths and butterflies, when Andrew learned of a call for applications at CW to intern for a pollinator project, he made the application.
Last month, Andrew became CommonWealth Urban Farm’s intern dedicated to creating and maintaining pollinator and rain water gardens, thanks to a grant from the NRCS and the Oklahoma County Conservation District.
“CommonWealth has a lot of life flying around, insects are vital to a healthy ecosystem” says Andrew. “I live less than a mile away, and there’s very few insects flying around. I want to ensure that they have a life, as I have a life.”
Andrew’s charge is to develop habitat for pollinators to maintain the life cycle of farm: birds, caterpillars, butterflies…
The project is designed also to attract people driving by and educate them, as well as volunteers, about how pollinator gardens function and their role on the farm. He will also be involved in developing a rain garden, to help eliminate flooding and to clean the water through a natural filtering system before it returns to the aquifer.
In the last few weeks, Andrew says he’s become more aware of the interconnectedness of nature. “Everything changes in the garden all the time. Clear a space, allow nature to maintain the plants, tend to them with careful attention. An apple is supposed to be healthy, but we have to consider where it came from, and what it took to grow it. The health of the soil is critical to our health.” he says.
Andrew expects to continue his connection with CommonWealth past his three-month internship. “I have an extreme interest in farming now,” he says. “I like being active, I like being outside. I want to live a healthy lifestyle and take responsibility for myself in relation to our ecosystem.”
It’s a dream now, he says, to be self-sustaining. “And I love the feeling of being part of a community. That is the most important thing. I’m glad to be involved.”