Let’s put Cowichan on the map.
There have never been so many good reasons to plant your own garden as there are heading into the summer of 2016.
Trish Elwick let us know about another when she called the paper this week to tell us about the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
While it’s a campaign that’s been started in the U.S., it’s something that’s worth Cowichan gardeners getting behind.
The provincial government’s Ministry of Agriculture announced in January that bees are becoming ever bigger business in B.C. (Bee.C.?)
Direct farm sales of honey almost doubled between 2014 and 2015, bringing in almost $16.5 million.
There are more than 2,400 beekeepers in the province, the ministry says, and almost 45,000 colonies of bees.
Beekeepers also make money from beeswax and pollinating crops.
Bees and other pollinators are absolutely vital to the continued health of our valley farms. They make it possible for us to grow food. But it hasn’t been an easy road for them in recent years.
Many beekeepers have lost significant portions of their hives to varroa mites and other pests.
Habitat loss has affected birds and bats. Pesticides are a scourge to native bees and butterflies.
It’s not a uniquely Cowichan problem, but there are things we can do locally to help make our area even more pollinator friendly.
It only makes sense to get on board, as rising prices for fruits and vegetables put some serious steam behind grow-local buy-local initiatives.
Elwick says so far, she’s the only person from Duncan who’s signed up for the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
The challenge invites people to pledge to plant pollinator friendly landscapes, with flowering plants and trees that provide food for these little workers.
It can be anything from several acres to a vegetable patch, or even window boxes.
The idea behind the challenge is that each individual effort can combine to make a big difference.
If you need more convincing, think about how much money you can save this summer if you can pick your own peas, beans and the like from your own garden, as California imports their price march upwards.
You don’t have to register with the challenge to get in on the planting, but it could be fun to take part
To find out more about the challenge or to register your garden, check out share.pollinator.org and millionpollinatorgardens.org
Do it for the cash. Do it for the bats, birds and bees. We can be, as the challenge states, one in a million.