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, Lakefield, Bingham Lake, Mountain Lake, Okabena, Westbrook, Jeffers, and Storden.  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 October 31, 2022 (final project install date). You can sign up any time at your local District.

We’ve expanded the cities eligible for our Pollinator Grant! Eligible cities include: Windom, Jackson, Heron Lake, Lakefield, Wilder, Okabena, Bingham Lake, Mountain Lake, Jeffers, Storden, and Westbrook!


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 L2L Cost Share Process for Homeowners

You can apply at your local District:
All Residents can sign up at:
Cottonwood SWCD
210 10th St
Windom, MN 56101

Other resources can be found on BWSR’s L2L webpage

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Photo Contest!

To help promote the Lawns to Legumes grant, Prairie Ecology Bus Center has partnered with the Cottonwood, Jackson & Heron Lake Pollinator Project and we are holding a bee photo contest! 

Along with raising pollinator awareness, we are also hoping that someone manages to capture a photo of the elusive rusty patched bumble bee! All photo entries will be submitted to Bumble Bee Watchwhich will confirm the species of bee(s) you spotted. For this reason, it’s best to send multiple photos of each bee you see, especially a photo of its back. More details means a better chance of confirming the bee’s identity! 

Who can submit? Anyone can submit pictures for the photo contest, but they MUST be taken in Lakefield, Jackson, Windom, Wilder, Heron Lake, Bingham Lake, Mountain Lake, Okabena, Jeffers, Storden, or Westbrook (locations where the pollinator project grant is available) to be eligible to win.

What to submit? Although we love all pollinators, this photo contest is ONLY for bees! You can submit as many photos as you like – in fact, we’d like for you to send in multiple photos of the same bees so we can identify them! 

When to submit? We will be holding the photo contest in 2021 and again in 2022. Photos for our 2021 contest are due Friday, October 15th. Photos must be submitted the same year they were taken.

How to win? All photo submissions will be added to PEBC’s “Say Bees! Photo Contest” Facebook album. When bee season is over, you can vote for as many photos as you want by giving them a like. Staff will select the winner from the top 5 voted photos. 

Prizes! Each year, the winner will receive a $150 gift card for native plants – a perfect gift to attract more pollinators! Our grand prize winner will be randomly drawn at the end of 2022 to receive a Yeti cooler. This may be a participant from any contest year, so anyone could win!

How to submit? Please send all of your bee photos to us by email at or through direct message on Facebook.  Along with your photos, please provide the following information (* = required):

  1. *Photographer’s name (first and last)
  2. *Site name & location where the photo was taken
    • Please be as specific as possible. This can be a street address, the name of a park, or even coordinates. If you’re uncomfortable sharing the address, at least provide the neighborhood or city where the bee was spotted. 
    • Reminder that only photos of bees taken in Lakefield, Jackson, Windom, Wilder, Heron Lake, Bingham Lake, Mountain Lake, Okabena, Jeffers, Storden, or Westbrook (locations where the pollinator project grant is available) to be eligible to win.
  3. *Date the photo was taken
  4. Flower the bee was visiting
    • Not needed if your bee wasn’t visiting a flower or you’re not sure of the flower species.
  5. Any other notes
    • You can also share things like: habitat type where the bee was spotted, how many of the same species you saw, etc. 

Not all of this information is necessary, but the more you share, the more you’re contributing to citizen science through Bumble Bee Watch! You can also spread awareness for the grant and pollinators in general by using the hashtag #Lawns2Legumes with any of your own posts online.

By submitting your photo to our Say Bees! photo contest, you are giving us copyright permission to upload your photo to Bumble Bee Watch and to Prairie Ecology Bus Center’s social media platforms. It will be attributed with your name.

What to look for: