Royal Canadian Mead (“RCM”), a Toronto company reviving the world’s oldest and most sustainable alcoholic beverage, is marking its relaunch this month with Patio Pollinator, a campaign that integrates bar and restaurant patios into Toronto’s urban ecosystem. In partnership with Toronto Flower Market and Gunnar, the floral design practice of Jaime McCuaig, RCM has developed a series of eye-catching, pollinator-friendly floral installations, which are beautifying patios across the city.
The installations utilize bee boxes, reimagining the simple wooden structures—conventionally used to house beehives—as architectural elements, with a diverse blend of pollinator-friendly plants blooming atop them. Each installation is site-specific, but many include such plants as coreopsis, asclepia (milkweed), agastache, lantana, dill flower, bronze fennel, yarrow, sage and marigold. The installations are rounded out with textural elements like grasses, trailing mint leaf and nasturtium. As summer progresses, the planters are taking on lives of their own, growing wild in the way that only nature can. Following summer, the soil and perennials will be transplanted to RCM’s future home in Prince Edward County; the bee boxes will house bee hives to support RCM’s production.
Underpinning Patio Pollinator is RCM’s partnership with Pollinator Partnership Canada, a charity focused on conservation, education, and research. Pollinator Partnership functions as a vital resource for RCM, offering important data and strategies around the cultivation of sustainable pollinator habitats. RCM will donate proceeds from sales of its mixed four packs to the organization this summer.
With this unique series of installations, the first of their kind in North America, RCM is beautifying Toronto’s growing number of outdoor drinking-and-dining destinations; it is raising awareness about the importance of pollinators, strengthening the link between the natural world and food and drink; and it is telling the story of its own product, a unique session mead, which uses fermented honey as a canvas for the expression of the flavours of fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers, limes, cherries, lemon and ginger. At present, the installations can be found at a diverse range of some of Toronto’s most beloved bars, restaurants and bottle shops, including Sakai Bar, Venice Beach Bar, Grape Crush, Dock Ellis, Peter Pan Bistro, Imperial Pub and Fresh City Farms’ Bay Street location.
“Our objective is to develop a program that has both symbolic value—prompting a vital conversation about the connection of nature to food—and real, practical value,” says RCM partner Ben Leszcz. “The glory of Patio Pollinator is seeing these floral gardens come to life, growing wild, and actually supporting meaningful habitat for butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.” Victoria Wojcik, executive director of Pollinator Partnership Canada, adds, “Pollinators truly support every aspect of our lives, be it our breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour. It’s wonderful when partners like RCM honour that connection. By creating meaningful pollinator habitat, the Patio Pollinator program reflects a deep appreciation of the critical importance of pollinators.”