PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 21

Photo: Wib Middleton The Plight of Pollinators I was working at a garden center in Bethesda 20 years ago, when a fearsome woman cornered me, demanding I find her something to kill “every damn caterpillar” in her yard. As I offered eco-friendly options, she briskly cut me off insisting she must have nothing short of Napalm because “caterpillars are ruining my cherry trees!” I don’t remember what toxic chemical I ended up selling her, but I do remember the whole episode causing a sick feeling in my gut, for in her determination to save her trees, she was about to decimate every By Pamela Boe insect in her neighborhood. As she was leaving—and this is my favorite part—she asked me what she could plant to attract butterflies! I had to Monarch caterpillar. PHOTO: JOE LONG explain to her that the caterpillars she was about to annihilate were actually baby butterflies. Here in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve—or, as I like to call it, the Ag Res—I am surrounded by farmers whose livelihoods depend on how their actions effect the ecosystem. In fact, many local farmers and orchardists take into account the ecological ramifications of their agricultural decisions—and have been doing so through the generations—as they are keenly invested in not repeating mistakes. And although often unfairly blamed for environmental plenty I summer growing 2020 21