Photo: Pollinator Partners Project Director, Loretta McGrath (right), and Tawnya Laveta, NM Farm to Table, tend a top-bar of bees. The two experts will discuss top-bar beekeeping and creating pollinators habitats on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Volunteer Center.
Grant County, New Mexico, November 13, 2012: The birds and the bees take center stage when top-bar beekeeper and director of the Pollinator Partners Project, Loretta McGrath, shares her expertise at a free Pollinator Training on Sunday, November 18, 2012, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Center, 501 E. 13th St., in Silver City, behind the Knights of Columbus.
The training is part of the Farm2School grant received by Grant County Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) from New Mexico Farm to Table, which brought locally grown vegetables to 750 students in Cobre District Schools during the month of September. HKHC coordinator A.J. Sandoval says, “This training is part of a continued partnership between HKHC and the Volunteer Center to provide training on our local ecological system and its importance in producing local food.”
McGrath is director of the Pollinators Partnership with New Mexico Farm to Table and a sustainability educator at Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, "When we garden and farm with honeybees and other pollinators in mind and we begin to extend our boundary of caring to these beneficial insects, they in turn provide their essential services. Our places respond with vitality, and become bountiful, fertile and beautiful."
Pollinator habitat is also the focus of a New Mexico State University study which is testing more than 100 species of mostly native plants to gauge their ability to attract and retain pollinators and other beneficial insects. The project hopes to raise interest in providing habitat for bees to combat the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder which has caused sharp declines in domesticated honeybee populations in recent years. The disorder is thought to be due to a complex combination of factors including habitat loss, pathogens, exposure to insecticides, and other stressors.
McGrath says, "If we garden and farm with pollinators as our allies, we are literally being assisted by thousands of creatures who benefit our places by increasing fertility and creating balance and beauty at the same time."
The Pollinator Training will include information on creating a chemical-free, pollinator-friendly habitat that attracts native pollinators. The training will also include resources for garden educators, practitioners, small-scale farmers and food activists.
The Volunteer Center’s Executive Director, Alicia Edwards says, “If we have food, we have to have pollinators. We all should be planting pollinator attracting species.” Sandoval adds, “We hope local educators, gardeners and enthusiasts will participate in the training.”