On the surface, this week’s episode is all about pollinators, and those who are doing the work to help them thrive again. Host Erick Baker and the rest of the crew show us that there’s another layer to the story: unseen and overlooked ecosystems, and quiet champions who prove there’s always something a little deeper going on in Tennessee.
Jennifer Taylor, entomologist at the Tennessee Aquarium, starts us off with a glimpse into the world of butterfly farms. Christine Bock Hunt, lead horticulturist at the Tennessee Aquarium, takes Erick and the crew on down the road to the Tennessee River Gardens, where special pollinator plants help butterflies with places to lay their eggs and ensure the caterpillars that emerge will have plenty of food.
Then, it’s on to 10,000 acres of wildlife and wildflower sanctuary at the Bridgestone Firestone Wildlife Management Area, where Erick and the crew speak to Clarence Coffee of the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, Bridgestone Firestone WMA and James Douglas, TWRA Manager Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wildlife WMA, who explains the importance of the project and the ecosystems that thrive there.
Michael Shew, Maintenance Supervisor and Horticulturist of the Music City Center in Nashville shows us the multi-acre green roof they’ve planted there, complete with pollinating, thriving bee colonies. Charles Starks, President/CEO of the Music City Center, explains how the roof helps to prevent flooding, too. Finally, Erick gets suited up for his visit to Jay Williams of Williams Honey Farm, to see behind the scenes of managing bees and harvesting honey.
Caring for our state’s pollinators is about more than just the bees and butterflies; it’s about being a good steward of the land.