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The Lawns to Legumes pilot program offers a combination of workshops, coaching, planting guides and cost-share funding for installing pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns. The program also includes demonstration neighborhoods, which are pollinator programs run by local governments and nonprofit organizations with support from BWSR, and a public education campaign to raise awareness about creating pollinator habitat. BWSR is partnering with Metro Blooms and Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water to administer the program. Find details on Individual Support Grants, Demonstration Neighborhoods, public outreach and more at the bottom of this web page.

Minnesota is home to more than 450 native bee species. Pollinators also include butterflies, moths, beetles and native flies. All play a key role in pollinating many food crops and native plants, but populations have significantly declined worldwide in recent years. Population decline can be attributed to habitat loss and lack of related nutrition for pollinators, as well as pesticide use and pathogens. Lawns to Legumes seeks to combat population decline by creating new pollinator habitat and habitat corridors that provide food sources and nesting space for pollinators.

Logo ENTRF

Funding is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) and is targeted in priority areas to benefit the Rusty patched bumblebee and other at-risk species. Please continue checking this web page for additional updates about the program. Fall 2020 funding update: At this time, we are not accepting applications. We are currently in the process of applying for additional program funding. Sign up for program updates below to be notified about future grant opportunities.

Sign up for program updates here

View a print-ready program overview here.

View a list of eligible expenses for Individual Support grants.

     

Why Pollinator Beneficial Plantings Are Important:

Bumblebee on hedge nettle
  • Many insects such as bees, butterflies, and moths that support our food and ecological systems are at serious risk.

  • Pollinator beneficial plantings also provide water quality, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem benefits.

  • Design, installation and management of pollinator plantings provide green industry jobs.

  • Improved soil health.

Key Ways to Incorporate Pollinator Habitat into Yards

  • BWSR's Planting for Pollinators Habitat Guide can help you plan, implement, and maintain your project.

  • Expand garden beds and plant pollinator habitat ie: native flowers.

  • Remove existing lawn (using sod cutters, etc.) and seed a pollinator lawn seed mix that typically include no-mow fescues and flowers.

  • Inter-seed flowers into existing lawn and increase mowing height, and decrease mowing frequency

  • Convert large areas to prairie vegetation.

  • Plant your rain-garden with pollinator-beneficial plants.

  • Incorporate flowering shrubs and trees in the landscape such as chokeberry, dogwood, ninebark, hawthorn, cherry, plum, apple, maple and basswood.

  • Provide nesting and over-wintering opportunities, see Planting for Pollinators (link below) to learn more.

  • Eliminate the use of insecticides and fungicides to the extent possible.

DIY Resources:

Many people who have contacted BWSR are not looking for funding, but information about how to create pollinator habitat. We hope these free resources provide an important link for those who are not sure how to begin their pollinator planting project.

Other key resources related to this program include:

 

 

Individual Support Grants

Minnesota residents can apply to be reimbursed for up to $350 in costs associated with establishing pollinator habitat in their yards. Individual Support grant recipients must provide at least a 25% match for their total reimbursement request. This match can be in the form of purchasing materials, hiring contractors or as in-kind time spent planting or maintaining plants (at $25/hr). To increase projects’ success rate, recipients are expected to attend a workshop or view the program’s introductory webinar

The Lawns to Legumes pilot program aims to provide cost-share funding to an estimated 700-1,200 residents. More than 7,500 applications were received in the program's first year. Workshops, free planting guides and online resources are available to anyone who wishes to pursue a DIY project.

Individual Support grant recipient resources:

Fall 2020 funding update: At this time, we are not accepting Individual Support applications. We are currently in the process of applying for future funding. Sign up for updates in above link to be notified about future grant opportunities.


Demonstration Neighborhood Grants

Demonstration neighborhoods are community projects intended to enhance pollinator habitat in key corridors, raise awareness about residential pollinator protection and showcase best practices. Organizations overseeing a demonstration neighborhood will work with local residents to install four types of beneficial planting practices: native pocket plantings, pollinator beneficial trees and shrubs, pollinators lawns and pollinator meadows. Local governments, nonprofit organizations, and tribal governments were invited to apply through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process in late 2019 and early 2020.

Twelve organizations are in the process of creating demonstration neighborhood programs in 2020. Grants must be executed by December 31, 2022. Learn more about demonstration neighborhoods.

Pollinator Habitat Basics

The first step toward creating pollinator habitat is deciding how you want to make a change on your property or rental space*.

Before you begin, use this chart to determine the best type of project for your yard and lifestyle. Planning, installation, maintenance, cost and aesthetics are addressed in BWSR’s Planting for Pollinators Habitat Guide.

*Projects on rental properties must be approved by landlords

Key items to consider for your pollinator project:

  • Grow pollinator friendly flowers by installing Minnesota origin native plants.
  • Increase biodiversity by choosing three blooming plants per season: spring, summer and fall.
  • Don’t want to plant a large garden? Consider planting beneficial trees and shrubs instead.
  • Eliminate the use of insecticides and fungicides as much as possible.
  • Take before/after photos to track your progress.
  • Help spread the word about free technical resources available to start your own pollinator project.

Outreach and Education

Raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of pollinator habitat is a key component of the Lawns to Legumes Pilot Program. Efforts to date include:

  • Lawns to Legumes was formally launched in 2019 at the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience. The exhibit featured native plantings, an opportunity to ask volunteers questions about the program, and options to sign up for program updates. 
  • A partnership among BWSR, Blue Thumb and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design yielded a year-long social media campaign showcasing student artwork to promote the program's values and goals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BWSR's Medium blog features articles from BWSR Senior Ecologist and Vegetative Specialist Dan Shaw providing advice on specific aspects of creating pollinator habitat. 
  • Lawns to Legumes has been featured in 128 published articles, including publications with a national audience such as O the Oprah Magazine and Mother Jones.
  • Workshops are an essential component of Lawns to Legumes. So far, the program has held 27 resident workshops training 1,444 residents and 11 train the trainer workshops that equipped 657 trainers with the knowledge they need to help others create pollinator habitat.
  • Online resources are provided to all interested residents on BWSR's program webpage. Program staff continue to update resources as more become available.

Program Accomplishments (June 2019-October 2020)

The first phase of the pilot program has received significant attention in Minnesota and nationally as an effective model for benefiting pollinators through residential landscapes. Lawns to Legumes aligns with BWSR’s goal to incorporate high quality pollinator habitat into as many types of landscapes as possible.

Lawns to Legumes provides Minnesota residents with a call to action to essentially “Bee The Change” for declining pollinator populations. We recognize that for many residents, the program provides an introduction to conservation in general. A combination of demonstration neighborhoods, individual resident support and a public outreach campaign helped maximize benefits for pollinators. Having this structure and public awareness in place creates an important opportunity to further engage and assist Minnesota communities and residents.

Accomplishments to date include:

  • More than 7,500 applications for individual support grants were received in the program’s first year.
  • Applications have been received from 84 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
  • The first phase of the program established strong partnerships with over 50 partners contributing.
  • Roughly 100 dedicated volunteer coaches are providing one-on-one assistance to new gardeners.
  • Approximately 2,000 Minnesota residents are currently receiving support in creating pollinator habitat.
  • Over 33,000 people have accessed the program’s website as of September 2020.

 

Testimonials

What's next for Lawns to Legumes?

Lawns to Legumes has been recommended for funding for Phase II of the program from LCCMR; a decision is expected in Spring 2021. Program staff are continuing to look into additional funding sources. As the program moves ahead, we are developing strategies to build on the program’s momentum to further engage residents statewide to establish pollinator habitat in their yards.

We are excited about the future potential of this program and feel that it is important to we maintain its current momentum while building awareness around the state. Lawns to Legumes is playing an essential role in aiding at risk pollinators while engaging the public in conservation efforts across the state.