Tora Rocha Greens Up Oakland

Parks supervisor starts the Pollinator Posse to turn The Town's urban jungle greener.


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Buzzing bee.

BENTOM WYEMJI, FLICKR (CC)

 

Tora Rocha believes in bees. And butterflies, hoverflies, and wasps. Why? Because these insects are the city’s pollinators, and without them, Oakland wouldn’t have the healthy plants that produce food, fibers, spices, and even medicines.

As a supervisor for Oakland’s Public Works Agency, she is responsible for maintaining the parks, playgrounds, and park buildings for the Lake Merritt and West Oakland sections of the city. Out of her passion for pollination, she founded the Pollinator Posse—a volunteer group that creates “pollination corridors” around the city—and guides visitors and landscapers around the gardens at Lake Merritt.

“It’s not just farmers that need to be aware of pollinator habitats, but also regular gardeners and landscapers,” she says. “For example, removing dead limbs and trees make gardens safer for people, but those are places where bees make their homes. I encourage folks to be aware of how their landscaping choices impact the whole pollinator system.”

Rocha’s hope is that by landscaping smarter, Oaklanders can create a contiguous pollinator habitat throughout its urban jungle.

“Oakland has been named one of the top green cities in the U.S., but being green doesn’t just mean recycling,” she says. “It also means creating an urban oasis for these insects that do so much for us.”

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