Family of volunteers wants to bring wildflowers and butterflies to south side

Karen Altieri wants you to share your time for a worthwhile mission. This past week, inspired by her grandchildren Elio and Edie, and with the help of her sister Anita Alteri, she began what she calls “The Butterfly Project”, a wildflower beautification project for Amsterdam’s south side. She would like to get people together to plant wildflower seeds in any available parcel of land to both improve the look of the south side and to eventually attract hordes of butterflies.

One day last week, I asked her to explain the origins of the idea and her plans.

“This is how it started: Anita called me up and asked if I would go with her to a meeting for the Southside Beautification Project. That’s what she told me it was. And I said I’d go, ‘Just let me get the kids ready.’ I like to get them thinking about the environment and how things work. So I asked Edie, 5, ‘What would you do to make the south side more beautiful?’ She said, ‘I’d put lots of flowers everywhere!’ And I asked Elio, 6, what he would do and he said ‘I’d get those flowers that bring butterflies. Then we would have all those butterflies.’”

“The reason we are doing this is to bring color and joy and butterflies to the south side, and it’s an example of one grandmother trying to do something joyful with her grandchildren,” Altieri said.

She said she would like it to be a grass-roots, volunteer beautification effort and she would like to provide seeds, in portions and in pots, ready to be planted right after Easter.

Altieri mentioned the potential sites for the flower beds could include islands of grass around the on-off ramps leading to the south side on Route 30 South, patches and borders on public and private land such as the former Chalmers site, bike paths and individual homes.

“Can you imagine what it would look like if all these areas were covered in wildflowers?” Altieri asked.

When asked who she had approached about the project she said just Mayor Ann Thane, and Carol Schuyler, prior owner of Schuyler’s, a greenhouse in the Town of Florida.

When asked for her reaction to the plan Mayor Ann Thane said “I love it! Because I think it gives people ownership in beautifying Amsterdam, and it’s something that appeals to families.”

Thane added that she would recommend volunteers avoid areas that are mowed regularly by NY State, because “the state is not going to recognize a butterfly garden and stay away from it.”

According to Altieri, Home Depot has provided a generous grant toward the purchase of seeds and Barkley Elementary School has offered help with seed distribution.

For more information contact Karen at (518) 627-4310.

Photo by Tony Alter licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jay Towne

Jay Towne is a resident of Amsterdam, has published six books and is the writer and director of a radio drama, Any Good Thing, that currently airs on WOPG.