A Seed of an Idea

Julia Brokaw, a Como Park neighbor and University of Minnesota Ph.D. student in the Cariveau Native Bee Lab, helped germinate over 1,000 prairie plants from seed and donate them to community projects. And that was just in 2022. The seedlings will be part of the Lawns to Legumes project with the Saint Paullinators of South Como and the Bee Line.

seedlingsIt all began in her small apartment in early April, when Julia started growing the seedlings indoors, focusing on plants that had a short cold stratification period or that didn’t require stratification at all. Starting some in her refrigerator and others in flats or in winter sowing containers, she eventually had more than 22 12”X12” trays of baby plants representing 22 high-value species of prairie plants to share with anyone interested in growing a pollinator garden. Julia believes in making pollinator gardening and native planting more accessible and affordable to all communities and enjoys the connections and relationships sparked from seed saving, sharing and growing together.

To celebrate National Pollinator Week this past June, the Saint Paullinator Project hosted an event at the Front Hi-Rise on June 26th to transplant the seedings into deeper trays with the help of residents and neighbors. Trays of the seedlings were shared with the Como Seedling Stewards, who will care for them before planting in pollinator gardens in the South Como neighborhood. Currently, there are over 800 native prairie flowers and grasses growing in flats in yards across the neighborhood, all worth an estimated $6,000. Once these plants get established and grow, they will produce hundreds of flowers to support an abundant and diverse bee community, restore soil health and be enjoyed by all throughout sub-district 4 of Como Park and district 10. Special thanks to Kern Landscape Resources for donating soil and to Julia’s housemate, Lauren Agnew, for helping raise the seedlings.

Despite her busy growing schedule, Julia made time to share a pollinator webinar with hort society members and followers this summer. Thanks, Julia—we think you're the bee's knees!


Dawn Lamm is an avid community gardener in St. Paul and co-founder of the MN SEED Project, a collaboration among the St. Paul Seed Circle, Como Community Seed Library, West Side Seed Library, Duluth Community Garden Program and the hort society, made possible by support from a Capitol Region Watershed District grant.

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