In a move to continue Bayer’s commitment to innovative sustainability, a $100 million greenhouse was built near Marana, Arizona to grow corn for seed production. The consistent climate in the Arizona desert provides the site with perfect conditions to rapidly grow produce indoors, with capabilities of completing roughly three crop cycles in a year.
As the Marana Greenhouse was constructed, large vehicles cleared small parts of land in the process. But where many saw an empty construction lot, Eli Miller envisioned something greater.
Miller, a senior at New Mexico State University and a Tucson native, was a summer intern at the greenhouse in Marana, putting his knowledge of wildlife ecology to the test. His plan? Build a 14,000-square-foot native pollinator garden just outside the greenhouse.
“I think it’s really cool–there is this giant construction site that just left behind a dirt patch, and I have the opportunity to take it as a blank canvas and create something beautiful,” Miller says. “I get to restore the land, but with my own personal flair.”
The garden will be completed in four phases, with the first including 30 plants and approximately 300 feet of gravel walking path. Garden construction began June 22, the start of National Pollinator Week. To recognize the importance of pollinators, employees at the Marana Greenhouse volunteered their time to help Miller.
To continue the commitment to help pollinators thrive, Bayer joined the #NationalHoneyMonth movement to bring awareness to struggling pollinator species. Miller plans to implement learning tools in the garden such as signage describing each plant and its effect on the local ecosystem to help with this issue, as well.
“In the end, this project will be multifaceted,” Miller says. “Not only will we see a native habitat be restored, but this will also be an area for locals to visit and learn from as well as act as a beautiful space for employees to relax.”
All plants will be native to Arizona or the greater southwest region of the United States, including cacti, honeysuckle, pipevine, and four varieties of agave.
They will also be sourced locally; the first batch being supplied by Desert Survivors in Tucson.
“Partnering with the local community is extremely valuable in a project like this,” Miller says. “It will make the end result more sentimental knowing that these plants were grown by people right here in Tucson.”