By Diana Blackwood
What do tomatoes, basil, coffee and alfalfa have in common? On the surface, it appears to be very little. However, there is one thing they do share: They all owe their existence to the service of pollinators.
Grocery stores would be rather empty without the hard work of bees, birds, butterflies, bats and other pollinators. One out of every three bites of food we eat or beverages we drink every day are because of pollinators. That’s a whole different range of foods, from fruits to nuts to vegetables. But despite the importance of pollinators, they are taken for granted all too often.
If the pollinators that help provide so much of the food we eat were to vanish, what would we do without them? We would starve. That’s why protecting pollinators is essential to the survival of our daily food supply. Bees, for example, are facing a huge challenge to their survival due to pesticides, parasites, disease and habitat loss. Without bees, we would no longer be able to enjoy our favorite foods if they die out. Examples of bee-pollinated crops include watermelons, cantaloupe, citrus, apples, cucumbers, squash, most berry crops, broccoli, nuts, asparagus and more.
How can you help? Pollinators need food, water, shelter and a safe and healthy environment to live in. Here are some tips for how you can help pollinators in your backyard, schoolyard or community garden.
- Plant a pollinator garden with a variety of flowers that bloom from spring to fall.
- Provide a source of water set on the ground.
- Build bee housing
- Minimize the use of pesticides
- Get involved by learning more about organizations that support pollinators and their habitats (ex. Pollinator Partnership and Xerces Society)
To honor and thank pollinators for the food that we enjoy every day, NACD is celebrating Stewardship Week (April 26–May 3, 2020) with the theme: Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators? to foster education and awareness.
NACD established Stewardship Week 65 years ago to educate the public on the importance of soil health, water quality, pollinator habitat and other conservation topics. Stewardship Week helps to remind us all of the power each person has to conserve natural resources and improve the world.
How are you planning to celebrate Stewardship Week in your community? Share with us at stewardship[at]nacdnet.org.