Lately I’ve been feeling down about the state of farming in America. And down is an understatement.
Our reliance on big agriculture, lack of crop diversity, our acceptance and support of GMOs (check out the recently signed Farmer’s Assurance Act) and the disappearing bees and butterflies all make me feel pretty helpless. Normally this would be the point at which I get heart palpitations and start subsisting on only the volunteer heirloom organic sprouts that are cropping up in our back bed instead of visiting the grocery store, but the world is bigger than I am and I have to learn to live within it.
But while I learn to live within it without anxiety, I want to do something — even if it’s small. So this is what my south-facing window sill looks like:
Actually, this is what our south-facing window sill looks like every season. The difference this year is that we’re focusing more on the pollinators this year as we garden. The little sprouts that are reaching for the sun and filling our window sill — and soon our garden — will be for us, but they’ll mostly be for the butterflies and bees. Along with the herbs that are sprouting, nectar flowers and host plants are starting to make their way into our yard as well. We’re creating our own little haven for these pollinators in the front yard and back.
If big farming is going to fill so much of our land with pesticide-filled crops that crowd out and kill those diverse plants that allow these pollinators to feed and reproduce, we should rethink our yards and give the bees and the butterflies a fighting chance. I know lots of people are doing much bigger things to try to fix these problems. My bee and butterfly gardening efforts alone aren’t going to impact the state of things, but at least making pesticide-free habitable yards, full of nectar flowers, host plants like milkweed, fennel and lupine, and water sources is something everyone can do.
Don’t have a yard? Fill some planters with some nectar flowers. Get your kids on board by helping them build a mini-butterfly and bee garden of their very own, making it a family affair. Start lots of extra seedlings or buy some extra host and nectar plants to share with your neighbors so that these butterfly and bee attracting plants make their way into yards around yours and maybe encourage your neighbors to do the same, creating a viable area for these pollinators to do their thing.
Like I said, nothing earth shattering , but it’s something small enough for me to focus on so I don’t go crazy thinking about all the other things I can’t change. Are you with me?
Helpful links for creating a space for bees and butterflies in your yard: