The Somersworth, New Hampshire woman hasn’t cut her grass yet. The city offers a loophole.
The city had ordered Pierce to cut the grass by Sept. 8, citing an ordinance that requires grass to be cut if it is more than 8 inches high.
Pierce said she declined because wildflowers grow in her garden, and wildflowers are good for bees and other pollinators.
When Foster’s Daily Democrat ran a story about the city ordinance and Pierce’s stance on behalf of bees, she said she received support from friends, families, strangers and even beekeepers from across the state and region.
Instead of mowing the lawn, Pierce said she applied to the city to designate her garden as a pollinator garden.
“I applied on Friday or Saturday,” Pierce said. “I’ll wait to hear.”
The city code officer suggests a pollinator garden
It was Shane Conlin, the city’s code compliance officer, who suggested she apply. He said Monday that he had not yet seen her application and had not spoken to her.
“I wanted to know that its intention was to be a pollinator garden,” Conlin said. “It’s important to know what her intentions are, and if those are her intentions then we can talk about them.”
Scott Orzechowski, chair of the city’s Conservation Commission, said he has been thinking about how to address the issue of greener lawns versus less manicured spaces that are better for the environment. But currently there are no guidelines for pollinator gardens in the city.
“I think this is something we have to address through ordinances,” he added. “We have a link to the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Program on the Conservation Commission’s website, and I would personally like to see us take a look at how we define plants. I think we have a limited view of how we view them. Basically, anything that’s not a tree, shrub, or flower “Cultivated is considered a weed. This is very narrow.”
Meanwhile, Somersworth points to her ordinance about mowing the lawn.
“Turf height is not at the top of my list of priorities,” Conlin said. “But it is a violation of the law and it was brought to our attention, so I needed to respond to it. If I made the request, that might be enough to deal with the problem in my view.”
The city code states: “All buildings and outside property shall be kept free of weeds or plant growth more than 8 inches tall. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited. Weeds shall be defined as all weeds, annual plants, and plants other than trees or shrubs.” Provided that this term does not include cultivated flowers and gardens.”
Pierce gets ideas and support from all over the region
Because Pierce added a mixture of wildflower seeds to her garden to support bees and other pollinators, she believes her garden can be considered “planted.”
“I’m surprised by the response,” she said. “I heard from Boston TV stations, from NHPR, from the Boston Globe. It was unbelievable. I heard from a lot of people on social media. I heard from a woman, Mary Ellen McCain, who is president of the New Hampshire Beekeepers Association, and she wants to work with me.” To make Somersworth a bee town.”
Durham is already a bee-friendly location.
When Pierce received a letter from city officials asking her to mow her lawn, she was furious after initially laughing about it.
“I don’t cut the grass,” Pierce said earlier this month. “I’ve lived here for over four years. I work full time and I choose to let the grass and flowers grow. I want to feed the bees.”
Pierce said she started doing some mowing, but when she saw the yellow flowers and bees, she said she stopped.
“I spread wildflower seeds around the yard, near where I planted the lilies,” Pierce said. “I put more in the backyard. I did it on purpose, because I care about the bees. That’s why I let the grass grow, and as long as they’re near those flowers, I don’t cut the grass. I’ll mow it.” “When the flowers die. The pollinators die because people need high-maintenance lawns. I hate that.”
Pierce runs a local dog training business, K9 To 5, in Dover. She said she is a responsible person at her work and home, and feels the city’s notice is a violation of her rights.