When we create products from milkweed materials, we are protecting monarch butterfly habitat through monetizing wild milkweed stands in rural communities. All our milkweed is wild-crafted and hand harvested.
Milkweed is a SLOW growing perennial that spreads through seed and underground roots called rhizomes. The best milkweed stands for harvesting are decades old and their biggest threat is being converted from natural prairie to modern farming systems that focus on one species, traditionally corn or soybeans. When this happens the milkweed and all the biodiversity surrounding the milkweed stand is killed.
Our goal is to create so many products from milkweed that we can expand the Community Conservation program to 20 distinct locations across the migratory path from Mexico to Canada. In the future, our goal is to have community based businesses creating products in these communities while helping other Monarch Flyway locations meet the demand for expanding milkweed material needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can my community join the Monarch Flyway Network?
We work with communities by starting with a program facilitator and initial wild milkweed pod collection. In order to identify species, we get pictures of local milkweed, screen the program facilitator and start with a small pilot program. If it seems like a good fit for both parties, the subsequent collections usually grow significantly in community engagement and production. Once a community harvests roughly 100,000# of milkweed pods from the area, we are able to discuss putting in a Community Owned processing facility and value added business that utilizes the harvested milkweed from their area.
Do we have to HAVE Milkweed to Start or can we Grow it?
Milkweed is a SLOW growing perennial, one reason it has been difficult to create a profitable "crop" from the plant. From the time of planting to flower it can take three to five years. For this reason, we normally find milkweed fields to protect from being destroyed through modern agricultural practices or development. The best milkweed stands for harvest are decades old. When communities engage in the Conservation that Pays program, milkweed is spread through naturally occurring root runners called rhizomes and passive propagation by pods opening and floating to other locations or seeds falling out of bags after pods are picked. Every year, communities that work to protect their monarch habitat have more and more milkweed without actively working to grow it.