The rusty patched bumble bee, which is the Minnesota state bee, was listed as a federal endangered species in 2017. Use of pesticides, along with pathogens and habitat loss and degradation have likely contributed to the bee’s demise. The resilience of rusty patched bumble bees and other pollinators can be fostered with greater availability of native vegetation and pollinator-friendly flowering plants. That’s where the Lawns to Legumes program comes in.

Flickr by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region

With planting guides, workshops, coaching and cost-share funding, Lawns to Legumes helps any Minnesotan with a plot of land to install pollinator-friendly native plantings. Lawns to Legumes also offers grants for demonstration neighborhoods and community projects that create habitat corridors and showcase best practices to raise awareness for pollinator habitat projects. The program also serves as an introduction to conservation in general for many Minnesotans who, even with relatively small plantings of native flowers in their yards, can contribute to the viability of pollinators.

Minnesotans have stepped up in a big way since Lawns to Legumes started in 2019. Thousands of applications from 84 of Minnesota’s 87 counties have resulted in thousands of Minnesota residents spending thousands of hours creating pollinator habitat. Assistance from dedicated volunteer coaches even helped bring Minnesotans new to gardening into the fold.

Lottery dollars, through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, help fund the Minnesota Board of Soil and Resources’ Lawns to Legumes program. Many projects like these, which make Minnesota an even better place to live, are possible only with lottery dollars. To read more about how the Minnesota Lottery is Playing Our Part to keep the great Minnesota outdoors great, click here.