Volunteers band together to maintain Southampton’s ‘good earth,’ support pollinators 

  • Lucinda “Cindy” Palmer, who co-chairs The Southampton Good Earth Gardeners,with Susan Saybolt, talks about the mission of the group in front of the entrance to Conant Park in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lucinda “Cindy” Palmer and Susan Saybolt, co-chairs of the Southampton Good Earth Gardeners, talk about the mission of the group at the entrance to Conant Park in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Gardens planted and maintained by The Southampton Good Earth Gardeners, co-chaired by Lucinda “Cindy” Palmer and Susan Saybolt, at the entrance to Conant park in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/24/2022 8:08:04 PM
Modified: 7/24/2022 8:05:02 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — A new crop of volunteers has sprouted in town with the intention of maintaining the community’s flowers and plantings and promote more environmentally responsible gardening practices.

The group, The Southampton Good Earth Gardeners, is interested in supporting native pollinators in town and is co-chaired by Lucinda “Cindy” Palmer and Susan Seybolt.

“We’re encouraging environmentally responsible practices by conserving native species in a changing climate,” said Seybolt, who is a certified master gardener.

Already, the Good Earth Gardeners have picked up where others have left off in planting perennials like irises and cosmos along the split-rail fence in front of the Old North Schoolhouse and Museum on Route 10 in Southampton.

For nearly two decades, former resident Teresa “Terry” Barton maintained a colorful variety of flowers varying in color and height so as to not have one species overshadowed by another. Once Barton moved away, resident Laurie Chmura took over for the next four years with another group of helpers and a group of “guerilla gardeners” took over for a short time after.

“Terry inspired us when she put all of those thoughtfully planned colors in front of important buildings in Southampton,” said Seybolt.

In addition to the garden in front of the Old North Schoolhouse and Museum, the group also has created a small pollinator garden at LaBrie Field and planted sunflowers in a 12-foot circle, so that they grow into a house-like shelter that would be welcoming for children to play in. Clovers complement the sunflower house.

Palmer and Seybolt also credit Southampton Highway Superintendent Randall Kemp, who assisted the group with its plantings by rototilling the garden beds.

The group is working on planting asclepias and echinacea at the town’s post office on Pomeroy Meadow Road.

While the group is considering its future as a potential nonprofit foundation, Palmer said she sees the Good Earth Gardeners functioning much like a “friends” group by holding fundraisers and special events to support its gardening and educational efforts.

“In rural communities like ours where there’s lots of land, we’re trying to encourage people to replace their lawns with meadows, which provides food for insects and birds,” said Seybolt. “Lawns are detrimental to their livelihood (birds and insects).”

Keeping up lawns often requires property owners to use harmful pesticides and herbicides, as well as fossil fuels used in lawnmowers, so switching to meadows can significantly reduce that usage, said Palmer.

“Growing up, I remember there being clovers in my yard,” she said. “But a lot has changed since then. They’ve been seen as a hindrance, but they’re actually a good thing. Clovers have flowers and bees love them. They can make a great ground cover.”

The group is encouraging property owners to raise their lawnmower blades to allow clovers to flower.

In the fall, the group is hoping to hold its first educational program on meadow-making.

“We’re focusing on being bee-friendly, butterfly-friendly and bird-friendly and native pollinators and meadows provide food for all of them,” said Palmer.

Those interested in joining the Good Earth Gardeners should email Seybolt at sseybolt@gmail.com or Palmer at lucindamail@yahoo.com.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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