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Milkweed Seed Workshop Honors Daughter, Benefits Monarch Butterflies

Madera (left) and Carr (right) welcome the Gainesville community with smiles and endless milkweed facts. (Selina Scott/WUFT News)
Madera (left) and Carr (right) welcome the Gainesville community with smiles and endless milkweed facts. (Selina Scott/WUFT News)

With her pink-and-silver-streaked hair and bright pink Disney muumuu moving in the wind, Faith Carr burst through the front doors of Crazy Woman Farm and shouted,  “When I come back, I want to be a monarch butterfly!”

Her main mission during Sunday's free milkweed planting workshop was to honor her late daughter Genevieve Gershkoff. Secondary, she wanted to give back to her community.

Before Gershkoff, 42, passed away on Jan. 13, she had told her mother that she wanted to come back as a monarch butterfly.

Dozens of people crowded into the urban farm during the first half hour the morning workshop, with the milkweed seeds running out before the last stragglers arrived. Participants at the workshop, ranging in age from six to 60, came to support Carr and create a more sustainable Gainesville.

Milkweed serves as a host plant to attract pollinators to a garden, said Carolina Madera, one of the event's organizers.  She said the plant is key to the monarch butterfly’s survival and the only plant their caterpillars will eat.

According to asurvey in the Journal of Natural History, there has been an 80 percent decrease of monarch butterflies in Florida since 2005.

Organizers set up five stations with different milkweed seeds for participants to plant in starter kits for their own garden. Madera said the event was to focus on community and attracting more monarch butterflies to Gainesville, something Carr's daughter would have wanted, Carr said.

Not even Carr herself was told how much it cost Madera to arrange the free event. Free was something both Madera and Carr felt strongly about -- that everyone deserves to reconnect with nature.

Their goal was to plant milkweeds in as many new homes for Carr’s daughter as possible.

“I just want everyone to remember this day, this plant and my Gen,” Carr said. “Go forth and make butterflies happen!”

Selina is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.