I've started volunteering a little time with my local beekeeping association, with their community education team. We go to all sorts of events - pollinator days at local wildlife museums, farmers markets, garden clubs, and especially in to local schools to teach the kids about bees and how they can help them.
I've done a couple of these events now, and it's highly enjoyable. I love kids; young kids especially are so openly curious about everything and so willing to learn. We were at a local elementary school last week where we talked with three different first-grade classes. First one of us gives a little presentation, and then there are the ubiquitous stations - one with honey tasting, one with beekeeping equipment available to try on and touch, one with age-appropriate books about bees and coloring pages, and one with an observation hive. This hive is made of glass, and the queen is marked so that the kids can find her easily.
I was struck by something at this event. We were saying goodbye to the kids and telling them to 'plant flowers for the bees!' and the kids pointed to our seed packets that were there for viewing purposes only and said, "Can we have a seed packet?" And we had none to give them.
Well. I can't let something like that stand. So when I got home, I called down to Renee's Garden Seeds in Felton (sorta near Santa Cruz), and talked to them about a donation of last season's seeds. Almost immediately, they agreed to donate almost 2000 seed packets, as long as I was willing to pay the shipping. And yes I was. And I did. And yesterday I got the most glorious box on my front porch.
Not every packet is appropriate - there are some things like decorative gourds. Well, those actually could be for the bees, because they adore squash blossoms. But you know what I mean. However most are just right for kids to plant and watch grow, and hopefully, see a bee or two come visit them! Right away I packed up a box to take to the elementary school where we were last week and dropped them off with a note. Yay!
I want to send an enormous THANK YOU to Renee's for these seeds! What a generous local company! I do tend to buy an awful lot of my annual vegetable and flower seeds from Renee's. I know I've mentioned them before.
Catching kids while they're young and curious is vital to keeping them engaged in the natural world. I really believe this and I think this sort of thing doesn't happen enough. When I'm at local parks with the beekeepers and the observation hive, older kids are also very interested; in the later years of elementary are studying metamorphosis and can understand what is happening in the capped brood cells of the hive. And I don't know about you, but I'm more likely to help an insect or bug if I can appreciate it. And in order to appreciate it, I need to know all about it. I'm looking at you, spiders.
As for the flowers in my own garden, well, I think we can call this the Spring of the Phacelia. I remember spreading a bunch of seed two years ago and pow, this year it all came up. Never give up on your seeds, ladies and gents.
In a similar vein, it's looking like it'll be the Summer of the Hollyhocks.