'Bee Happy' Project Creates A Buzz And New Pollinator Gardens

By: Russ Allen

Topics: Gardening , Environment

Native pollinator plants are added to a garden at Dream Day Cape Cod camp at Nickerson State Park in Brewster as part of the “Bee Happy” project. COURTESY PHOTO

EAST HARWICH — It started simply enough. One day this past summer Jill Abraham walked out of her house and noticed bees hovering over and flying back and forth between plants in her small garden. While busy running her own business, she was also participating in a four-month leadership training program held by Landmark Education of Quincy which, among other activities, required her to undertake a community service project. Knowing the importance of bees to the environment and ecological health of the Cape, and that the existence of these insects is being threatened through the overuse of chemicals, she wondered what it would be like if native plants favored by bees and other pollinators were more widely present across Cape Cod.

To find out, Abraham developed a project to distribute donated bee-friendly plants to persons willing to add them to their gardens and care for them. Little did she know how that her “Bee Happy” project would catch on and the level of interest and support it would receive.

 

Abraham is the owner/director of Power Yoga of Cape Cod. She is a certified Baptiste instructor, certified Kripalu instructor, and created and leads the yoga alliance certified teacher training at Power Yoga. In addition to teaching yoga, Abraham is a Certified health and life coach through Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a certified Ayurvedic practitioner through The Ayurveda Academy in Seattle, and a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Cookery School. She has been leading health and nutrition workshops since 2001 and retreats in Costa Rica every year since 2013.  She is inspired by the deep bonds that form and the profound transformation that occurs when people come together and practice yoga for just a short time.  She regularly organizes community projects throughout the year to raise funds and awareness for various non-profit organizations.

So she's no stranger to dreaming big and realizing what she envisions. Abraham is an enthusiastically energetic woman and entrepreneur. The business she founded in East Harwich has expanded to a second location in Dennisport, and she and her business partner Leigh Alberti, along with a staff of 30 teachers, serve a client list numbering approximately 2,500, offering a variety of yoga programs and activities.

The Aug. 15 edition of The Chronicle carried a report on Abraham’s plans for distributing 200 bee-friendly perennials donated by the West Harwich-based landscaping firm S&E Companies. Through social media she announced that she would be giving them away and an initial 20 responses assured that each could receive at least four or five plants, adequate for creating a small pollinator garden. In time more donations meant additional plants being distributed to people whom Abraham hoped might be willing to come together to celebrate and share their experiences.

Thanks to Home Depot and Stop and Shop, along with S & E Companies, 700 plants were eventually donated, and the emerging community has now met twice, with some 45 parents and children attending an Aug. 19 event and 25 present at a second gathering on Oct. 20.

“I am grateful to Whole Foods, which, appropriately, donated 48 vegan cupcakes, and Hannah Welch who created ‘The Bee-Happy Project’ video about the program, the Cape gardens that have been graced with bee-friendly plants as a result, and how the idea has spread throughout New England,” she said.

Abraham is especially excited about the connection that has developed between her bee program and Dream Day on Cape Cod, which sponsors a summer family camp at Nickerson State Park in Brewster for seriously ill children and their families. Several of the donated plants have been added to the park’s ballfield.

Abraham anticipates the bee-friendly plant program will continue and expand.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the donated plants in full bloom next summer,” she said. She is also focused on planning for a major fund-raising event to be held in May. “Recovery BUILD Alternative Peer Group,” a program of Behavioral Health Innovators, Inc. founded by her friend Stephanie Briody, offers a safe place where substance abuse challenged “teens and young adults come together with their peers in recovery to build a sober life that will sustain them as they integrate into the broader recovery community,” she said. Last May’s event raised $18,000, and the goal for a similar event next May is $50,000.

From a simple idea and a welcome incentive came a program that will benefit the environment and people of Cape Cod for years to come. All because Jill Abraham noticed the bees in her garden.