‘Pollinator Party’ to highlight pollination businesses

By Alexis Ramirez , Staff Writer

Bees will get to enjoy the flowers and humans get to enjoy bee products at Riggs Beer Company’s “Pollinator Party,” happening at the company’s beer garden in Urbana on May 28. 

Caroline Riggs, brand manager for the company, said the party will bring together three local businesses to whom pollinating insects and other animals are vital: Earth Bounty Farms, Treehive and The Well Fed Caterpillar.

Attendees will be able to purchase drinks, honey, native plants and food from local trucks — like Smith Burger Co., Flour & Fire Pizza, and Watson’s Shack & Rail — and listen to a live music performance from local band The Power Trio.

Earth Bounty Farms is a Rantoul-based honey farm owned by Fallon and Jason Bartell that produces unpasteurized honey and other honey bee-related products. Some of Earth Bounty’s hives are visible from Riggs’ beer garden. Earth Bounty’s local honey will be available for sampling and purchase at the event.

Treehive is a mead-focused winery also based in Rantoul. Mead — sometimes referred to as honey wine — is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water.

Treehive’s meads are blended with different fruits and spices to produce a variety of honey wines. The winery sources its honey from a variety of farms, but most are based in central Illinois, including Earth Bounty Farms.

The winery’s mead maker, Corey Mason, will offer a tart cranberry lime mead and “Grape Happens,” a mead made with concord grape juice, wildflower honey and orange blossom honey, for sampling and purchase.

The Well Fed Caterpillar, a plant nursery founded by Amy C. Thoren and Kayla Myers, will offer a selection of plants native to central Illinois for purchase.

Although honey bees are not native to North America, they are an important agricultural species comparable to livestock, Myers said.

“If we can use native plants to provide food for the animals that we use for agriculture, then that benefits all of the wildlife that lives around these farms.”

Prior to The Well Fed Caterpillar, Myers founded Jackalope Wild, a landscape design company, after obtaining a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois in 2020. It was through this business that Myers met Thoren, formerly a pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Campus Center and drawn to horticulture by her interest in entomology.

The idea for a pollinator-centric event arose when Thoren reached out to Caroline Riggs to organize a native plant sale event.

“I think Riggs is such an incredible community center,” Thoren said. “The events that Riggs brings together are absolutely community-oriented, and they’re very much about really good causes.”

Riggs suggested expanding the scope of the event and including other pollinator-related local businesses.

The Well Fed Caterpillar’s mission is to educate and empower homeowners interested in diversifying their lawns, Myers said.

The business started a GoFundMe fundraiser in March to offset startup costs, including pots, soil and plants difficult to grow in the owners’ own homes.

The event’s timing is intentional. Late May is the height of the nectar flow seasons, according to Riggs.

Vendors will be stationed in the Riggs Beergarden on May 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. The event will be rescheduled to June 4 in the event of rain. It is open to the public. No outside beverages will be allowed, and nonalcoholic beverages will be available. Visit the event page on the Riggs Beer Company website for more information.

 

[email protected]