“Power of Pollinators” presentation, May 10

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The Almonte and District Horticultural Society and the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee are sponsoring a presentation, the Power of Pollinators, by Dr. James Coupland on Wednesday, May 10 at 7:00 pm upstairs at the Almonte Old Town Hall. 

Photo: Brent Eades

This event is open to the general public and is free of charge.  We encourage residents of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and surrounding areas to participate in this educational opportunity.

Founder and director of FarmForest Research, Dr. James Coupland is an entomologist, agricultural research scientist and ecologist with a passion for biodiversity protection and sustainable agriculture. A member of the Canadian Forum for Biological Control and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society he has published 39 scientific articles, 5 book chapters, 2 popular articles, and 4 international reports.

Consider him the bug whisperer.  Much like The Horse Whisperer popularized in book and film, Almonte’s Dr. James Coupland has an affinity for insects, especially bees. “I used to be able to pick up a bee with my fingers and not get stung,” says the entomologist and beekeeper, who has been collecting bugs since he was two. He even loves black flies, although he admits he’d prefer they not bite.

He turned his passion into a thriving career studying insects, with a research facility in Almonte and as an in-demand consultant for the United Nations around the world.  Heard of the Zika virus that made headlines in advance of the Olympics in Brazil? Coupland has worked on abatement strategies to combat it.

A strong advocate of pollination, conservation and the value of ecosystems, he’ll talk about the importance of pollinators and their decline.  Pollinators, which are critical to plant reproduction, are “a huge part” of the value of nature, he says. And even individual gardeners can have a big impact in solving the problem of habitat loss and the effect of insecticides.

“Just think about lawns – lawns are deserts to pollinators,” he says. “Home gardens are a really important aspect of wild pollinator diversity.” The diversity of the flowers we plant maintains a diversity of pollinators, he continues. “Wild bees are our best pollinators. Without them, there would be few flowering plants to produce food, to provide habitat and to make the world beautiful.”

Coupland’s talk will start with a big picture look at how we approach nature and how we value it before getting into pollinators and the impact of things like loss of habitat, changing weather patterns and environmental pollutants. His company – FarmForest Research – develops sustainable pest control products for big companies that are pollinator-safe.

Born and raised in Almonte, Coupland spent more than 20 years in Europe, where he founded his company, before coming back home. “Europe’s a bit crowded,” he deadpans. “I wanted to come home and do my work in Canada; there’s more space.”