BETHEL — Join Mahoosuc Land Trust on August 12 and 13, this summer, for an event in the twenty-thousand square-foot pollinator garden! Presented by the Mahoosuc Land Trust, this event promotes thoughtful stewardship of land and habitat creation, and provides a resource for family fun and education!

It’s hard to miss a garden of that size, especially when it’s buzzing with monarch butterflies! As you drive along North Road, in Bethel, that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Valentine Farm Conservation Center. The site of Mahoosuc Land Trust’s (MLT) headquarters, Valentine Farm consists of dog-friendly walking trails along the Androscoggin River, administrative offices for MLT staff, and the Habitat for All garden.

This garden is a part of the Habitat for All (HFA) initiative led by Mahoosuc Land Trust. Focusing on the philosophy that small actions lead to big changes, the Habitat for All program invites everyone to reimagine outdoor spaces as an opportunity to create new habitats for plants, wildlife, birds, bees, butterflies, and humans.

The garden is the cornerstone of the HFA initiative. The garden features educational programming, space for sanctuary and quiet reflection, and demonstrations of gardening techniques and habitat enhancement. Mahoosuc Land Trust celebrates this program with its annual Monarch Festival. This event is free and open to the public.

This year, it’s taking place on August 12 and 13. A webinar at the Gem Theater with keynote speaker Doug Tallamy of the Homegrown National Park initiative kicks the weekend off at 6 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, August 13, the actual festival begins at 11 a.m. with MLT’s Annual Meeting. Bethel poet Richard Blanco will share some poetry to inspire the occasion. At 12 noon, festival activities begin, including an indigo dying demonstration and activity, gardening and monarch butterfly talks, bird walks, children’s activities, insect exploration, artisan vendors, and more.

A signature aspect of the event is the monarch tagging demo from 1-3 p.m. Each year monarchs make their way from Maine to Mexico as part of their lifecycle. So far, two monarch butterflies that were tagged at Valentine Farm have been found in El Rosario, a monarch preserve in Mexico, traveling a distance of 2,986 miles.


“The Habitat For All Garden is a monarch butterfly magnet,” says Barbara Murphy, Director of Development and Habitat For All. Each year hundreds of monarchs visit the garden on their way to their overwintering site in Mexico. Stop by the Pollinator Alley between 1-3 to learn about MLT’s participation in this community science project.

Going on its third year, the Monarch Festival and the Habitat for All Garden continue to grow. This year is especially exciting with the expansion of an evening event the day before and the addition of two keynote speakers.

Doug Tallamy is an ecologist, professor, writer, speaker, and co-founder of the Homegrown National Park project. The goal of Homegrown National Park is to convert approximately 50% of all privately owned lawns into areas that support wildlife, pollinators, and birds. The Habitat For All garden is a recognized park within this project! Tallamy has written many books on the topics of biodiversity, sustaining wildlife and native plants, and creating living landscapes close to home.

Richard Blanco was the youngest, the first Latinx, immigrant, and gay person to serve as the Presidential Inaugural Poet. More recently, Blanco was awarded the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by President Biden. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, cultural identity characterizes his many collections of award-winning poetry. Blanco is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has received numerous honorary doctorates, serves as Education Ambassador for The Academy of American Poets, and is an Associate Professor at Florida International University (FIU). In April 2022, Blanco was appointed the first-ever Poet Laureate of Miami-Dade County.

Habitat for All thanks its event sponsors, The Rotary Club of Bethel, River Fund of Maine, Franklin Savings Bank, and supporter, Norway Savings Bank. Without their support, free public access to this event would not be possible, and sustaining Habitat for All’s work of restoring the connection between people, nature, and their backyards is that much stronger because of them.

For more information about the Monarch Festival, email or visit to see the agenda for the day.

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