Feature: Malta sends wildflower seed mix to 180,000 households

2021-05-16 12:05:56 GMT2021-05-16 20:05:56(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

VALLETTA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Under the Maltese government's new educational initiative, some 180,000 households in the country are to receive a special package containing a mix of wildflower seeds and instructions on how to sow and care for them. The aim is to encourage families to grow their own plants at home and thereby boost awareness of native plants and their diversity.

The "seeds for households" project, launched recently by the country's Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning, sends families samples of hundreds of thousands of seeds of indigenous, pollinator-friendly flowering plants that are long-lasting and easy to grow.

Malta is home to a rich diversity of wildflowers that come in all shapes and colors.

"This is a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse habitat loss through specific nationwide actions and commitments, including key actions on pollinator species," Aaron Farrugia, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning, told Xinhua in an interview.

He explained how this project originated from an initiative to educate and engage with the public on the importance of conserving pollinator species as well as the habitats they depend on.

He said that 90 percent of the world's flowering plants depend directly on pollinator species to reproduce, including many fruit trees and crops, which human beings and domestic animals depend on for food and as a source of income.

Additionally, 35 percent of the world's food and over half of the human diet of fats and oils come from crops pollinated by animals.

"Wildflowers provide food and shelter for pollinators, including bees, butterflies and moths. In return, pollinators collect and spread wildflower pollen from plant to plant enabling the development of seeds," he said. "Various ecosystems and living things within them depend on this synergy between pollinators and flowering plants. Reduction in the population and collapse of pollinator species populations would negatively impact the agricultural sector, and consequently the global economy and essential food supplies," the minister added.

The seeds sent to households include sweet alyssum, red corn poppy, chamomile and borage. They are expected to germinate within one to two weeks after sowing.

Mary Lynn Cassar, a 43-year-old mother of two, said she was pleased with the initiative.

"I have no garden. All I've got are two small balconies. I have no green fingers at all because I've managed to kill every plant I had. I was happy that the government sent us these seeds because I turned them into an educational activity for my kids," she told Xinhua.

Cassar has two children, 11-year-old Zach and 6-year-old Ben. "They love sowing the seeds and have been watering them and looking after them. My younger one speaks to them too," she said.

"I think it's a great initiative because apart from being educational, it will help replenish the ecosystem and maybe make our bare balconies a little bit greener," she said.

"By engaging with the public on the role of wildflowers and encouraging people to grow pollinator-friendly plants at home, this government project shall contribute to the European Union's (EU) Pollinators Initiative. This details actions to be taken by the EU and its member states to address the decline of pollinators in the EU and contribute to global conservation efforts," Farrugia said.

The chosen wildflower seeds are highly resilient and can survive in various substrate types. Even though these flowers usually bloom in early spring, the seeds can be sown throughout the spring season and will germinate anyway. The germinated saplings shall produce flowers that last well into the summer months.

Red corn poppy, chamomile and borage plants die in summer after producing flowers and setting seed, but will reappear next spring and continue self-seeding, providing an "eternal" source of flowers.

Sweet alyssum is an everlasting self-seeding flowering plant, producing flowers almost all year round. It will self-sow and reappear in spring. Enditem