Lawns to Legumes

A unique and exciting opportunity is available for urban residents in Cottonwood County! The State of Minnesota is taking the business of our declining pollinator populations seriously and has delegated grant money for homeowners to establish pollinator gardens and lawns at their house.

What is Lawns2Legumes?
Lawns2Legumes is a new grant program in Minnesota to increase pollinator habitat throughout the state. It provides financial assistance to homeowners to install different types of habitat for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee and other pollinators.


What is the Rusty Patched Bumblebee (RPBB)?
The RPBB is a native bumblebee to Minnesota and other Midwest and eastern states that was quite common until about 10 years ago. In 2017, the RPBB was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is the first bee in the contiguous United States to be listed as such. In 2019, the State of Minnesota named the RPBB as the official State Bee! While there are many impacts to our bee populations and other insects, experts believe that a lack of habitat has caused the most stress on the RPBB population.

Pocket Garden Photo: Blue Thumb


Learn more about the Rusty Patched Bumblebee on the
USFWS website or on the Xerces website

How can you help pollinators?
Surprisingly it doesn’t take much to help pollinators. It can be as simple as planting a flowering tree or shrub in your yard. Flowering trees and shrubs provide critical early season flowers when many other flowers are not in bloom. Or consider planting a small pollinator garden using native wildflowers like coneflower or bee balm to provide foraging sites for insects. Do you hate mowing your lawn in the hot summer days? Well, maybe a bee lawn using clovers and other grass types that is only mowed a few times a year is an option for you.

Sign-up for Cost-Share today to help pollinators!

Pollinator Lawn Photo: UofM

There are currently two sources of funding open to Cottonwood County residents to utilize grant funds from the Lawns2Legumes program:

Cottonwood, Jackson, & Heron Lake Pollinator Project Grants: This grant is available only to residents who live within the city limits of Windom, Wilder, Jackson, Heron Lake, and Lakefield. Residents can be reimbursed up to 90% (NTE $450) in costs associated with establishing pollinator habitat in their yard. Our grant is available April 9, 2020 until 2022. You can sign up any time at your local District.

Click here for an Application Form & Operation & Maintenance Form (please fill out and return both forms)

Click here for an Information Sheet on eligibility and project types

Flowering Crabapple Photo: B. Buchholz

Click here to see Cost Share Process


You can apply at your local District:
City of Windom residents:
Cottonwood SWCD
210 10th St
Windom, MN 56101

Cities of Jackson, Heron Lake, Lakefield, and Wilder residents:
Jackson SWCD                                           Heron Lake Watershed District
603 S HWY 86                                            1008 3rd Ave
Lakefield, MN 56150                              Heron Lake, MN 56137
507-662-6682                                            507-793-2462

Individual Support Grants (This is run through the State and open to anyone if there is funding):  This grant is available to any resident of Cottonwood County. Residents can be reimbursed up to $350 in costs associated with establishing pollinator habitat in their yard. The first two rounds are currently closed for enrollment, but the State is working on obtaining more funds because of how popular the program is.

You can apply online on the Blue Thumb’s website
Other resources can be found on BWSR’s L2L webpage

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Photo Contest!

As part of our outreach and awareness efforts of our Lawns to Legumes Cottonwood, Jackson, & Heron Lake Pollinator Partnership Project Grant we have a photo contest to capture a snapshot of this endangered bee. The last sighting of a Rusty Patched Bumblebee (RPBB) was in 2012 near Wilder, MN in our area. We want to find another one, so break out those cameras!

Eligibility: Due to the nature of our grant, only city of Windom, Wilder, Heron Lake, Lakefield and Jackson residents are eligible to participate.

How to submit photos: Email your photos and we will upload the photos on the website for species confirmation. Try and get 2-3 good photos looking for key features (see below) of the RPBB.

Prizes: Any resident with a positive RPBB photo will receive a native plant the following year. All entries will be entered into a drawing at the end of the grant (2022) for a Yeti Cooler.

What to look for: