Mason Grounds Shop Supervisor Proves Going Green Is Better Messy

Posted: June 13, 2011 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: June 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

By Lea Lubag

Grounds Shop supervisor Archie Nesbitt checks out one of the bumblebee havens on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Lea Lubag

When faced with troublesome areas that were difficult or impossible to mow, Archie Nesbitt, Mason’s grounds shop supervisor, decided to let the unkempt run wild — with wildflowers, that is.

Nesbitt says that planting the wildflowers and converting these odd patches of ground into what he calls bumblebee havens were part of the “in-house initiative to increase plant life diversity on campus.”

Nature Takes Its Course

The bumblebee havens serve as a natural attraction for native bees, butterflies, moths and birds. Specifically, Nesbitt hopes they will help stabilize the declining bee population in the area.

“Other than weeding, I don’t try to intervene. I want to let Mother Nature take its course,” says Nesbitt.

The project first began three years ago, and has continued to thrive since then.

Some of the areas where the havens can be seen on the Fairfax Campus are near Lecture Hall, the Northeast Module, the Finley Building, Fenwick Library, the handicap ramp by Presidents Park and the Sandy Creek Parking Deck.

The haven site located near Sandy Creek Parking Deck is already in full bloom with white and purple coneflowers, coreopsis, zinnias and marigolds.

Do Not Disturb

Signs reading “Bumblebee Havens, Do Not Mow or Disturb” are posted at each site. Interestingly, it’s not the flowers that go missing, but the signs themselves.

“I would say about 50 percent of them have disappeared,” says Nesbitt.

Yet even without the signs, Nesbitt asserts that the havens have been left alone and are doing well.

“I would appreciate it if people wouldn’t bother them; it’s also an education process with a specific intent. With all this construction going on, we need to learn how to give back to the environment,” says Nesbitt.

Saving Manpower

Nesbitt has worked for Mason for more than 20 years and seen a steady expansion of the Fairfax Campus. Construction of new buildings on campus has also meant new lawn spaces to be maintained.

This puts pressure on an already short-staffed grounds team.

Nesbitt’s innovative bumblebee havens not only help the environment, but save on manpower too.

“Instead of spending hours of manpower trying to mow a slanted slope or a difficult-to-reach area,” he says, “we can now use those hours toward mowing the new lawn spaces that have come up.”

As budget and manpower allows, he hopes to continue expanding bumblebee haven sites on campus.

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