Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fire at our Community Garden

Photos by Mary-Ann Charney
     On Tuesday night we had a fire at our community garden (Cottonwood) in Vancouver.  Unfortunately the fire consumed our greenhouse and beekeeping/tool shed.  Arson is suspected. We lost everything including ladders, pruners, construction tools, weed eater, irrigation supplies and all of our beekeeping equipment which we had accumulated over many years (including my favourite 40 year old smoker). This also includes our community honey extractor and honey harvesting equipment which we lent out to the public and the protective clothing we used for our beekeeping classes.

No AFB there
Our honey extractor
     It is difficult to remain optimistic in the face of continuous vandalism and theft at the garden but it is a reality of gardening and beekeeping in a public space.  It is important to remember that 99% of the folks that come to our garden love and appreciate it and we can't let the acts of a few dictate the future of our beautiful garden.

     Cottonwood Community Garden 25 years ago.
 
Cottonwood Garden today

     Cottonwood Community Garden today.  Built on a former dump site 25 years ago by a group of guerrilla gardeners this 4 acre oasis is a home to birds, bees, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, frogs and over a hundred humans.  The city has proposed construction of a freeway through the middle of the garden.  Friends of the garden have proposed alternative sites for the freeway.  The future of the garden is in jeopardy but we are hopeful.  This video was taken on the 20th anniversary. 


We will rebuild and we will persevere.

     Remembering the good times.
Extracting honey in the bee shed
*  We have started a fundraiser to rebuild and restock our greenhouse and bee/tool shed. Any donation no matter how small is appreciated.  To donate by credit card go to "Cottonwood Fire" or you can donate by credit card or paypal on the top of the page on the sidebar.  You can receive a tax receipt with a donation of $25 or more.  Thank you.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Keep the Hives Alive



     "In June 2016 a group of beekeepers, farmers, community organizers, environmental groups, and concerned citizens banded together to host the “Keep the Hives Alive Tour” to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators and how toxic pesticides contribute to their decline.
     Collectively, our mission is to educate the public of the dangers of bee-toxic pesticides; share the stories of beekeepers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized (and some lost) by the continued use of these products; and urge the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Congress to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture.
      Bees and other pollinators are declining at an alarming rate and an overwhelming number of scientific studies link these population declines to pesticide use.  Unfortunately, uses of toxic pesticides are having far-reaching impacts on a wide range of environments – everything from urban parks, to croplands, to beeyards and aquatic ecosystems. Beekeepers, farmers, and consumers all need a healthier environment for bees! Honey bees and native pollinators are essential to our food supply and help to provide one in every three bites of food we eat. That’s why the Keep the Hives Alive Tour traveled across the United States during National Pollinator Week in 2016 to educate the public about pollinator declines and how we all can work together to protect our pollinators. We want to continue the momentum built last spring by sharing resources, engaging communities to take action, and working together to create healthier habitats for pollinators."

      Agrichemicals are not the only problem our bees face.  There is a growing number of mostly imported pests and diseases that afflict our bees; diminishing forage and habitat for native bees; reduced genetic diversity; global warming ...  but most will agree that a significant issue is that our present system of industrial, large scale monoculture agriculture is not sustainable or healthy for us or bees.  The overuse of agrichemicals and fertilizers and the sterilization and depletion of our soil is addressed in this documentary.
      A 2008 world food crisis which saw mass starvation due to extensive drought conditions led the United Nations to complete an extensive study by experts from around the world (U.N. Report on Agriculture Sustainability - Wake Up Before It's Too Late).  They concluded that "The 2008 food crisis was an important catalyst for realizing the need for a fundamental transformation and questioning some of the assumptions that had driven food, agricultural and trade policy in recent decades.  The world currently produces sufficient calories per head to feed a global population of 12-14 billion (global population = 7 billion).  Around 1 billion people chronically suffer from starvation and another billion are malnurished.  Therefore hunger and malnutrition are not a product of insufficient supply but results of prevailing poverty and above all access to food.  The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a “green revolution” to an “ecological intensification” approach.  This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers."    

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