It’s time to have the talk. No, not about the birds and the bees – about the bees and the seeds.
GMO-Free New Mexico hosted the second annual Albuquerque Bees & Seeds Festival on Saturday at Tractor Brewing Wells Park.
Chris Perkins, an organizer for GMO-Free New Mexico and the coordinator of the festival, said GMO-Free New Mexico wants to raise awareness of environmental harm, like genetic engineering and honeybee "Colony Collapse Disorder," in a positive way.
“We wanted to bring a festival together (to show what) we believe is the solution to these problems: community, local food (and) local art ... I want to create a platform for connections to happen naturally and organically,” Perkins said.
He said the goal of the festival was to get people talking about how they can help save our pollinators and reduce the impact on the environment.
The event featured a variety of environment-related activities, including making a seed mural with Seeds: A Collective Voice, planting seeds to take home, painting garden rocks and other art activities.
Information stations from New Mexico Beekeepers Association, Food is Free Albuquerque and other organizations were available among the vendor booths to offer information and suggestions to those who wanted to know more.
Christine Reecer, a member of the Albuquerque Beekeepers, said Colony Collapse Disorder is the alarmingly rapid disappearance of beehives around the world, especially in the United States.
“Nationwide, over last winter, we lost 44 percent of colonies of bees. This winter, just (in) New Mexico, it was a 48 percent loss, with many factors,” she said.
Reecer said she was at the event promoting urban beekeeping with the New Mexico Beekeepers Association because she believes that’s how we’re going to save the bees. She said it’s important to get people interested in doing this because everyone’s survival depends on it.
“If we don’t have bees, we don’t have food. That’s really what it boils down to,” she said.
Despite the massive decrease in the bee population, there is an excess amount of food in New Mexico, according to organizations like Food is Free Albuquerque, a local soon-to-be non-profit organization.
Erin Garrison, a director/founder of Food is Free Albuquerque, said they came to the festival to spread the word about their cause, which is going out and picking up the excess “forgotten food” to donate to the community.
“America is growing enough food to feed everybody. Nobody should be hungry in our country,” Garrison said.
She said Food is Free Albuquerque has spent countless hours acquiring food from corn fields, people with fruit trees and other places of “forgotten food” to donate. They have shared thousands of pounds of food within the community, she said.
“I hope we can get people who have fruit trees in their backyards or extra in their gardens to either donate to us so we can share it, or inspire them to share it with their people, their neighbors, their strangers, whoever,” she said. “I also hope to inspire people to donate their food and to help us come out and pick.”
Garrison said Food is Free Albuquerque has worked with GMO-Free New Mexico on more than one occasion and strongly support their cause.
For more information about GMO-Free New Mexico, New Mexico Beekeepers Association and Food is Free Albuquerque, visit their respective Facebook pages.
Skylar Griego is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TDLBooks.