The Butterfly Project encourages appreciation of butterflies in community gardens and public spaces throughout New York City. Created by Environment Care Groups (ECG’S) in 2003, the project encourages eco-friendly gardening and the use of native plants. Members of the project include the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Restoration Project, the New York City Parks Department, the New York City Housing Authority, Green Thumb and a host of community gardens like Drew Gardens, the Garden of Eden and the Soundview Houses Senior Citizens Center have embraced the idea of bringing butterflies and beauty to their neighborhoods. The Butterfly Project is a cooperative working group run by people dedicated to improving their neighborhoods and organizations coming together to help the community.
The Bronx Zoo was instrumental in creating the Butterfly Project and hosted most of the early working group meetings. The Bronx Zoo also provided free access and tours to the Butterfly Zone at the Bronx Zoo to groups that were involved or committed to planting butterfly gardens. The program was so popular it was featured on the front page of the New York Times. A photo of a little girl with a butterfly on her nose at the Butterfly zone appeared with the story.
The Butterfly Project is also a resource for the community and received grant funding to develop a curriculum for teachers that was published in spring 2009. The project provides information, supplies and native plants for community gardeners and has annually conducted free plant giveaways since its inception. The Butterfly Project is more than just butterflies. It helps create habitat friendly areas in community gardens called Butterfly Parks or Butterfly Conservation Areas (BCA) that support other important pollinators like bees and wasps. This helps restore the ecological balance of the community as well as enhance the participation and knowledge of its community gardeners. The Butterfly Project has helped to create dozens of BCAs in gardens in the last 5 years and looks to create more wonderful oases within the community.
Kevin Matteson was one of the Butterfly Project’s pioneers took these photos in community gardens. Feel free to send us photos of your community garden especially if they include butterflies.