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Protecting pollinators: Festival raises awareness of the importance of birds, bees, butterflies

Learn about the birds and the bees, as well as the roles of other pollinators in the food we eat, during the sixth annual Bees + Seeds Festival.

The Sixth Annual Bees + Seeds Festival will give away 1,000 plants and provide education about pollinators, sustainable food and more. (Courtesy of GMO Free New Mexico)

The event on Saturday, May 18, was created to heighten awareness of supporting local and sustainable food, as well as pollinators, including bees, birds, butterflies and bats.

“We focus on bees, but all pollinators are in danger because of climate change, chemicals, monocultures and things like that,” said Chris Perkins, GMO Free New Mexico, Bees & Seeds organizer. “There’s a condition in the environment right now that is making it a challenge for hives of bees to survive, so we’re trying to raise awareness about the dangers to honeybees. So promoting community, promoting local and sustainable food, and just making people aware that things are happening to bees and they’re super-important to our food supply. Four out of every five bites of our food comes from pollinated plants of some kind, so four out of five of our bites was impacted by a bee, so there’s a lot of concern.”

Attendees will get to take a home a plant of their own after getting the required stamps on their plant passport. Live music, an open mic, environmentally conscious arts and crafts, vegan and vegetarian food offerings, and more also will be part of the event.

“This (plant) passport is broken down into multiple categories, like soil and water and bees,” Perkins said. “We organize our vendors into these categories, and then we ask our vendors to mark off or stamp. We’re encouraging this community engagement where we’re giving them some blank forms, and kind of like a scavenger-hunt style, where you have to talk to four groups and you have multiple options to do so, and once you get four stamps, you turn that in for your plant.”

GMO Free New Mexico teamed up with Food Is Free Albuquerque to create the Bees + Seeds Festival. Nonprofit GMO Free New Mexico was born about six years ago when the March Against Monsanto was happening. The march was an international movement to raise awareness about genetically engineered foods and some of the pesticides that are happening with that. Monsonto is one of the larger biotech corporations that were making modifications to seeds and creating chemicals such as RoundUp, according to Perkins. GMO Free New Mexico raised awareness through street protests and activism. It later decided to create a more family-friendly event to include art and music.

Food Is Free Albuquerque is a nonprofit involved in a number of local projects, including gleaning food from trees and fields at property owners’ request and distributing it to people who are hungry, as well as revamping people’s yards to anybody with the need to make their yard accessible.

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