CT NOFA > Blog > Seeding Sanctuary: CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project Pollinator Garden at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Sanctuary

Seeding Sanctuary: CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project Pollinator Garden at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Sanctuary


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Seeding Sanctuary

CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project Pollinator Garden at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Sanctuary

“I can still picture Catherine crouched in the garden, mesmerized by whatever creature she cradled in her hand.  All too often that very creature was a butterfly to whom Catherine would whisper, “Tell your friends I am kind.” She was certain if they knew she was kind, they would come back- with friends.  And she was right, they always came back- with friends- and in droves. The pollinator garden, part of the Ecotype Project, is that quiet whisper realized.  For generations to come, the sanctuary’s pollinator garden will provide a safe haven for wildlife, insects and the increase the population of Ecotype Project plants,  greeting all humans and animals with a quiet whisper assuring that we are truly kind.”

Jenny Hubbard, Mother of Catherine Violet Hubbard, Age 6

Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

Catherine Violet Hubbard, a young girl from Newtown, Connecticut was a true lover of all animals. She made her own business cards as “Care Taker,” of “Catherine’s Animal Shelter,” and was often seen cuddling animals and insects of all varieties. On December 14, 2012, when Catherine was six years old, her life ended in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her family, in order to celebrate her life and her crusade of compassion opened the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Sanctuary’s mission on 34 acres of woodlands, meadows, and trails, is “to enrich the lives of all beings by promoting compassion and acceptance.  By honoring the bond between animals, humans, and the environment, we’re creating a kinder and gentler world for all.”

This year, in early June, in an effort to create a sanctuary within a sanctuary, a large “ecotype” pollinator garden was planted. This project is one of the first restoration scale undertakings championed by the partners of CT NOFA’s Ecotype Project.  Ecotype Project plants are grown from wild, sustainably collected seeds in an effort to support the local genetics of Connecticut. The native plants that have evolved in our area called local ecotypes, are best suited for our soils and adapted to the character of our local ecology. Using these plants helps pollinators, and thereby supports beneficial insects, birds, farms, gardens and helps all things to thrive in our landscape.

The Ecotype Project is increasing the number of truly native plants in our ecoregion: it begins with a living seed bank of wild-collected and locally grown native plants.

CT NOFA farmers and nursery growers from around the state have been working together to bring these special plants into production. Darryl Newman of Planters’ Choice in Newtown worked with The Ecotype Project to make these right plants for the right place available to homeowners and landscapers.

The Ecotype Project works in partnership with botanists, farmers, nursery growers, landscapers, conservationists, and educators to re-establish these critically important plants from backyards to large scale restoration sites.

The Pollinator Garden site was prepared by a wonderfully dedicated group of individuals and organizations:

  • P|H Architects
  • Darryl Newman, Principal, Planters’ Choice Nursery- grew 1,900 plugs for garden
  • Eric Rains, Landscape Architect LLC
  • Jenny Hubbard, President & Executive Director, Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
  • Laura King, Program & Event Director Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
  • Alice DiLuoffo, Office Manager, Catherine Violet Hubbard ANimal Sanctuary
  • Chris Coleman, Eco-Systems- donated his irrigation services
  • Jonathan Maurais, Site One Landscape Supply, Stamford- coordinated the effort in donating irrigation supplies
  • Mike Swister, North Country Landscape Management- coordinated the volunteer professional landscapers
  • Clean Cut Lawn & Landscape
  • CT Groundskeepers Association

1,900 plugs from Planters’ Choice of seven different species of ecotypes were planted including:

Eupatorium purpureum                   Joe pye weed

Penstemon digitalis                         Foxglove

Pycnanthemum muticum                Short-toothed Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium            Slender or Narrow Leaf Mountain Mint

Vernonia novaboracensis               New York Iron Weed

Aster Cordifolius                              Blue Wood Aster

Monarda Fistulosa                           Wild Bergamot

The beautiful day of planting was captured in images by photographer Bill Glass and can be seen in this video: https://youtu.be/aCmeeOnaXTc.

“Having grown up in Newtown, and currently calling it home for me and my family, I’m thrilled that Ecotype Project plants made it to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary. Many thanks to the many eager and brilliant professionals in the video who donated their valuable time during the busy spring season to make the world a kinder and more beautiful place. I’m honored to be in an industry that gives back so much and touched to see people from great organizations making a real difference by creating environmentally friendly and stunning wildlife habitat for the benefit of generations to come!”

Darryl Newman, Owner

Planters’ Choice

The Pollinator Garden will be a beautiful addition to the property located at 3 Old Farm Road in Newton, Connecticut. The sanctuary land is open to visitors from dawn to dusk and provides the perfect destination to connect with the beauty and serenity of nature.

All of Nature, our farms, and our gardens depend on a robust population of pollinators and beneficial insects, and those insects depend on native plants. The seed collected from this pollinator garden is helping protect and restore Connecticut habitat and safeguard our own food system for future generations.

The Ecotype Project is honored to be a part of making Catherine’s “quiet whisper realized,” and look forward to increasing the number of Ecotypes in our local lands to show our pollinators that as conscientious land stewards, we can “be truly kind” and support the needs of all our winged friends!

For more information about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary please visit the Foundations website: here.

To join The Ecotype Project and stay informed about future plant sales and events, please visit our website at https://ctnofa.org/ecotypeproject/

Funding for The Ecotype Project has been provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service, US Dept of Agriculture, awarded and administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Thank you to the following organizations for making this pollinator garden possible.

  • P|H Architects
  • Planter’s Choice Nursery, LLC, Darryl Newman, Principal
  • Eric Rains, Landscape Architect LLC
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, President & Executive Director, Jenny Hubbard
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, Program & Event Director, Laura King
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, Office Manager, Alice DiLuoffo
  • Eco-Systems, Chris Coleman donated his irrigation services
  • Site One Landscape Supply, Stamford, Jonathan Maurais coordinated the effort in donating irrigation supplies
  • North Country Landscape Management, Mike Switser coordinated the volunteer professional landscapers who planted 1900 plants
  • Clean Cut Lawn & Landscape
  • CT Groundskeepers Association


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