It’s not a joke that pollinators are dying and, with them, the health of the planet and our food supply.
But a project to raise awareness about their plight did start out with a laugh.
Fortunately, a group of School District 43 teens decided the issue was so serious, they just had to do something about it — and now their first pollinating garden is about to be complete.
“We wanted to start a conversation about bees. People don’t think a lot about them but they are a huge link in the food chain,” said Jason Liao, a Coquitlam resident and one of the founders of the Pollinator Project.
It was at a Saturday night hangout over a year ago when Liao, Victor Song, Brandon Miao and Patrick Zhao, who all go to different SD43 high schools, were at loose ends when the topic came up. “What was originally said as a joke happened to intrigue the rest of us and, wanting to make a genuine difference in the world, we ran with the idea and made a vow to see it through,” Liao said.
Their idea to build pollination gardens in Greater Vancouver area caught fire among the teens but getting their project underway took some work.
First, they had to fundraise and that proved more of a challenge than they thought. A bake sale resulted in a measly $5 profit, selling t-shirts and candy to neighbours took a lot of work but raised little more and they spent more on pizza than they raised in profits during a video game tournament.
Fortunately, the teens persevered, selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts and starting a GoFundMe page that netted them enough funds to buy plants and other materials for their first garden at a daycare at UBC. In March, they’ll be planting bee-attracting species such as huchera, Californian lilac, stonecrop, fleabane daisy and more.
“All I have to do is leave them out there and make sure they don’t dry out,” said Liao, who admitted he’s not exactly a green thumb.
His friend Zhao would like to see other youths get involved and start clubs at their schools. “We want to get more kids involved because we had a lot of fun with it.”
Adults are encouraged to create their own pollination gardens, too.
Saving bees is an issue everyone should be concerned about the teens say, and that’s no joke.
To help people get started, the teens have put together a web page with information, including tips about bee-loving plants and facts about bee health (www.thepollinatorproject.info). The Facebook page is available at www.facebook.com/ThePollinatorProjectBC.