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The Pollinator Connection: Bee-ginnings that have bee-gun

Published in the Ashland Daily Tidings

Posted Jul 26, 2017 at 5:57 PM Updated Jul 26, 2017 at 8:30 PM

There is a beginning to everything. But sometimes I wonder — just when WAS the beginning? Because, preceding a “beginning” are various working relationships, unknown connections, synchronicity of people and events, and doors opening and closing.

The first beginning I want to tell you about resulted from an idea mentioned by Catie Faryl of Center for Creative Change and the wonderful relationship Pollinator Project Rogue Valley (PPRV) has developed with Lisa Arkin and Krystal Abrams of Beyond Toxics over the last year and a half.

Because of these connections and “perfect” timing — we proudly announce that Beyond Toxics, Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, and Center for Creative Change will soon have a lovely office in Phoenix! Much gratitude to Thrive for donating some of their furniture to this endeavor!

We are excited about the possibility that this shared space brings to the Valley. Our office will be a place to gather to create the change that needs to happen around pesticides and the harm they cause pollinators and people alike, coalesce organizations and businesses working to create a sustainable Valley, offer community events and educational sessions, and support creative thought, actions and solutions.

Everyone is invited to our grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 4 to 8 p.m. at 107 W. First St. in Phoenix — we’ll have food, music, art, prizes, and more!

Here’s another beginning to announce: the creation of the first-ever Rogue Buzzway map! PPRV has long planned to create a map of pollinator friendly places in the Valley, showing both public and private lands. A big thank-you to Kristi Mergenthaler of Southern Oregon Land Conservancy for connecting us with Ollie Bucolo and Southern Oregon University, who will be collaborating with us to create this exciting new map! We hope you will show your support for our project by making a contribution at PPRV’s Buzzway Fundraiser, also on Sept. 16!

Another beginning occurred last month when Bee City USA Ashland, a subcommittee of Ashland Parks and Recreation, hosted its first Pollinator Garden Tour! It was quite a success, with 125 people registering for the opportunity to visit 17 gardens.

Ashland is not the only Bee City USA with an approved pollinator garden program. Thanks to Dolly Warden and others with Bee City USA Talent for beginning Talent’s pollinator garden program this year. With six gardens already approved, we look forward to Talent’s garden tour next year!

And another bee-utiful project began earlier this summer in Phoenix. Thanks to the foresight of Sharon Schmidt and Judy Grillo of Bee City USA Phoenix, there is now a blooming painting on the side of the Exit 24 overpass! Judy invites everyone to come paint flowers, bees, butterflies, and more between 7 and 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

If you can handle one more beginning: We may soon have a fifth Bee City USA in the Valley! Thanks to Kenda Swartz Pepper and others for beginning the conversation with the Jacksonville City Council. Want to support their efforts? Come on out to the J’ville Growers Market on Sunday, Aug. 6!

And, finally, just to keep your summer buzzin’, here are two more bee events:

• Cascade Girl’s Oregon Honey Festival on Saturday, Aug. 19 — taste honey, meet bee- and pollinator-minded folks, and enjoy mead and music at the Ashland Elks Lodge.

• Bee Girl’s Hive-to-Table Dinner on Saturday, Aug. 26 — it’s a “sweet feast” — and silent auction at Hanley Farm in Central Point.

Perhaps someday soon, we will begin to see an increase in both pollinator species and populations. Until then, the good news is that there is growing awareness that almost all life on Earth depends on pollinators — bees (honey, solitary, and bumble), butterflies and moths, flies, beetles and bats. Pollinators make seeds “happen” — seeds that grow crops (1 out of 3 bites!) and native plants so that we have carrots and tomatoes, madrones and lupines, and other plants that feed our wildlife, filter our air and water, and hold the soil on the mountainsides.

We have to begin somewhere. Pesticide-free gardens and landscapes with lots of flowers year-round, and natural habitats with milkweed and other natives, is a great place to start.

— Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, Bee City USA Ashland, and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association. The Pollinator Connection appears quarterly.


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