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BEYOND LOCAL: Fly Home Project now a Canada-wide program

First established in the Waterloo Region, the national program kicks off with free pollinator plant seeds sent anywhere in Canada, while supplies last
Cambridge real estate agent, Alana Russell at the Mill Run Trail near Cambridge.

The Fly Home Project, a first-of-its-kind environmental initiative that combines the real estate industry, conservation groups, and community members to help address rapidly declining populations of pollinators, is growing beyond Cambridge and Waterloo region this spring with a network of support that is now North American wide.

Established last year by Cambridge realtor Alana Russel, the Fly Home Project is an environmental initiative that gets pollinator plant seeds into the hands, and gardens, of community members to support vital species, like butterflies and bees.

The internationally beloved Monarch Butterfly was added to the IUCN Red List of endangered species in 2022, signalling a serious risk to their existence. Monarch Butterflies travel nearly 3,000 miles during their migration from southern Canada and northern United States to their overwintering destination in Mexico, and provide an invaluable service of pollination, essential for many ecosystems to thrive.

Russell, took action and made milkweed seeds, the host plant for monarchs, available to anyone who requested them free of charge.

Milkweed is the host plant for Monarchs and without it, they can not survive. In a matter of weeks, more than 700 hundred seed packs were distributed and in return, messages from across Canada came flooding in with requests from eager participants to expand the program.

“It was incredible to see that so many other people shared my concerns, and more importantly, wanted to get involved,” said Russell in a press release.

“In order to expand the program, I knew a collaborative approach to meet the demand would be necessary. The development of the national Fly Home Network, provides an actionable, personalized, and meaningful way for everyone to take part in communities across Canada and the United States.”

Now Russell has developed the Fly Home Network, a roster of ‘Nature Approved’ real estate agents.

When a home buyer or seller is connected with an agent through the Fly Home Network, a portion of the commission is invested back into the initiative. They have the option to have native pollinator plant seeds sent throughout their neighbourhood, or they can select an environmental partner agency to receive a donation from the Fly Home Project.

One of those partner agencies is the David Suzuki Foundation.

“Our work aims to protect and restore the most at-risk ecosystems and species,” said Colleen Cirillo, Rewilding Communities campaigner. “Our purpose is to empower people to take action in their communities on the environmental challenges we all face. The Fly Home Project is an example of how we can all act every day on the understanding that we are one with nature.”

Throughout the planning process, Russell has consulted with numerous environmental experts and leaders in the field. Each one of them echoed the importance of all pollinator species and of creating homes for them in our communities.

The national program kicks off with free pollinator plant seeds sent anywhere in Canada, while supplies last.

The spring 2023 seeds are Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), a popular flower with pollinators for their nectar and home owners for their resilience and beauty. Seeds are sourced from an Ontario based company called Northern Wildflowers and are untreated and GMO free.

To request a seed pack, or to connect with a ‘Nature Approved’ real estate agent, visit the website.

The Fly Home Network is available to anywhere in Canada and the United States. For additional information, visit here.