The following was shared as part of our celebration of the heroes of National Pollinator Week, 2016.

Highlighting Heroes

Helen Yoest; Director of Bee Better Inc.

Nature is Free

In 1996 I became a mother. A lot changed for me that year, but nothing was more profound than the impact on me as a gardener. Not unlike statistics from the American Automobile Association reporting that women become better drivers after becoming mothers, I imagine that if a study were performed, it would find that new mothers also become safer gardeners, as do dads. It became increasingly important for me to build a garden where children could take part, not a place where I feared for them to tread.

In the past, I was hung up with perfection—no holes on the leaves, no bugs noshing my nasturtiums. As I proudly got rid of one pest, another took its place.

Then I stopped. I stopped using anything, chemical or organic-based, to rid the garden of pests.

The new garden, the one that I’m raising a family around today, is a place where everything is free—free of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides; free of worry about holes in my leaves and bugs roaming uninhibited; free of fear that my kids might want to eat an unwashed fig from the tree. Within a year, the entire half-acre garden was in balance. Today, Helen’s Haven is a menagerie of birds, bees, butterflies, snakes, frogs, and lizards. It’s an ecosystem more than a mere garden.

The decision to let nature take her course set me free.

Today, Helen is the Director of Bee Better Inc, a non-profit focusing on building better backyards for birds, bees, and butterflies.

Mason bee on clover, thanks to Sally for the pic