About five years ago while pregnant with her first child, Misty Wettergren came across an ad on Craig’s List for harvesting milkweed and began picking that day. Wettergren now handles a wild milkweed collection point in Michigan as part of the Monarch Flyway team.
“Milkweed grows everywhere, primarily on the side of the road, but where we live it grows naturally in fields,” she said. Last year, she had more than 50 people harvesting and expects to have even more this year.
The process of collecting pods is simple. “All you need are gloves and a bag. We’ve had two year olds to 90 year olds as harvesters. It’s a process that anybody can really do and a lot of families choose to do it together as bonding time,” explained Wettergren.
The harvesters come from all walks of life. “Some are kids whose parents want them to have responsibility, some use the money for family vacations, some use it to put food on the table and some give money to their families,” she said. “The best part of my job is people, hearing their stories and seeing families work together.”
Wettergren notices an increase in the Monarch population where she lives. “I wasn’t expecting to get so much out of this when I answered the ad. It’s turned out to be a really fun experience,” she said. People are able to live better lives because of the milkweed collection. It provides jobs for some, pain relief for many, and a habitat for the Monarchs.