What is Natural Neighbors?

BiodiversityWorks and the Village and Wilderness Project have partnered to develop the Natural Neighbors program, with support from the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship. Natural Neighbors works with property owners and neighborhood associations to learn about their interests in nature and identify current and potential biodiversity contributions on their land. Then, we’ll offer customized management recommendations to benefit plants, pollinators, and wildlife in your area. We’ll help you develop a stewardship plan compatible with your time and resources.

Why do we need this program? 

While Martha’s Vineyard has a lot of land in conservation, these properties aren’t enough to conserve the island’s flora and fauna into the future. Populations of plants and animals need to find each other, and private lands can provide vital habitat connectivity to help wildlife and plants move, mate, pollinate, and thrive. Many private landowners enjoy the plants and animals on their property and contact us to learn more about them or how to help them. Natural Neighbors has sprouted from the many requests we receive from landowners who want to know more about stewardship.

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Natural Neighbors is such a wonderful program that helps you assess your property to identify the habitats and plants that encourage biodiversity and suggests simple things you can do to further enhance your surroundings to attract more pollinators and wildlife.

It was fascinating to learn about my property from a knowledgeable and charming person with recommendations that I would never have thought of. I highly recommend setting up an appointment!

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The possibilities for expanded habitat that Angela identified were great. I now recognize more invasives which I can stabilize. And I’ll have ideas not only for my small meadow but for the landscaped areas around my house. Well worth my time.

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My site visit with Angela of Natural Neighbors was inspiring and cheering. It is so refreshing to talk about birds, pollinators, chipmunks, frogs, bats, and snakes. She had simple and insightful suggestions for increasing a variety of wildlife habitats (in my under 1-acre yard) that I look forward to implementing.

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It was a pleasure to share my garden with Angela and learn about all the biologically healthy choices that I’ve already made. She suggested next steps for making my garden even more hospitable to wildlife. I’m thinking now about the fauna as well as the flora. Make way for a snake board and water element!

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Thank you, Angela and Luanne, and to Biodiversity Works’ Natural Neighbors program, for a fascinating and educational exploration and walk through our property (field, forest, and wetlands).  It was extremely helpful to have your knowledgeable and practical advice on locations where specific native plants could be planted (providing berries for birds in the fall and winter seasons), and habitats for animals (such as nesting boxes for field swallows and bluebirds) established. And how exciting it was to find a Carolina wren nest with eggs, and hear the song of a Northern Parula!  I hope many other private landowners on the Vineyard will participate in this collaborative and useful effort for biodiversity conservation.

How much does this cost?

Natural Neighbors is currently free because Angela Luckey, the program director, is funded through a two-year grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship. We welcome donations to fund the continuation of this program. Donations over $150 (the value of this free service) are tax-deductible.

How do I sign up?

To get us started, please fill out our online survey to help us understand how we can best help you. We look forward to hearing your goals and discovering the unique features of your property that can help native plants, birds, and other Martha’s Vineyard wildlife!

About the staff

Angela Luckey is the program director. She grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and lives in West Tisbury. Angela has a B.S. from UMass in Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences and an M.S. from American Public University in Environmental Management and Policy. Angela conducts all site visits, with support from Luanne Johnson and Tom Chase as needed.

Luanne Johnson is the Director of BiodiversityWorks and a wildlife biologist. She provides expertise on bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

 

Tom Chase is the Executive Director of Village and Wilderness an organization that works to amplify the power of established organizations by creating innovative strategies to restore Martha’s Vineyard’s environment and foster an Island culture that stewards it. Tom advises on all aspects of the project and occasionally makes site visits.

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