Over 1,200 people came through Kieran’s Northeast Kitchen for a buzz-worthy cause. “It’s hard to be a human nowadays, think of how hard it is to be an insect,” Erin Rupp stated at this year’s PolliNation festival on August 25. Hundreds gathered at the Food Building at 14th Avenue and Marshall Street NE to celebrate, educate and gather information on pollinators.
Pollinators are defined as an animal that causes plants to make fruit or seeds. They do this by moving pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part. They are an essential part of our ecosystem, which extends to our crops and other food-based industries. Due to habitat destruction, pesticides, diseases, climate change and several other factors, pollinators are declining in number. To combat this decline, the Pollinator Friendly Alliance (PFA) was formed. From a humble start in a kitchen with three beekeepers in 2014, in the past five years, PFA has grown into a large statewide non-profit.
“We are a little grassroots with a very big voice” said Laurie Schneider, executive director. PFA hosted the PolliNation event that welcomed numerous vendors in the industry ranging from insect-friendly food vendors, organic vegetation suppliers, beehive designers, artists and educators. Vendors provide goods, services and tips on how to protect Minnesota’s pollinators.
“Bees as well as other pollinators provide food for our ecosystem. Things must change to make sure we are protecting them,” said Rupp, founder and executive director of Pollinate MN. “Events such as these are vital to spreading awareness.”
As hundreds of attendees, young and old alike, mingled around and outside the Food Building, “The number one question we receive is ‘How can I help’?” said Schneider. “Minnesota is open to help and wants to know how.”
For the first year, this event was held in Northeast and was well received by the community. Thirty percent of the attendees were from the neighborhood. Other organizations with similar goals were also present, providing educational activities for children and adults alike. Included in the festivities were several Minnesota musical artists performing outside, interrupted only by a swarm of bee performers portraying the pollination rituals of the most recognizable pollinator, as well as a few beekeepers.
Awards were handed out, celebrating several communities’ commitments to protecting pollinators. There are now about 40 cities in Minnesota considered Pollinator Friendly, including Minneapolis. While the festival provided ample amounts of entertainment, food and drink, the purpose, awareness, was never lost.
By hosting events such as these, the Pollinator Friendly Alliance hopes to achieve more action from state legislators and representatives. PFA is involved in numerous projects across Minnesota promoting pollinator safety and conservation, hoping to continue to grow and embark on even bigger projects.
Schneider stated, “We need pollinators to support our very existence – the ecosystem and food system. And now they need us!”
Below: The queen bee and one of her subjects did a little dance at the PolliNation festival Sunday, August 25 outside Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast at 14th and Marshall. The afternoon-long event was packed for good music outside and pollinator-friendly information tables inside. Previous years’ festivals were held in the Stillwater area. Concert crowds enjoyed sunshine until (later) a rain shower inspired everyone who had tents, to move them in to protect the audience and keep the music going. Pollinator Heros and representatives of eight cities that had just achieved Pollinator Friendly status were recognized and given signs. Next, the bee dance. Then, scenes from the popular indoor information areas. (Photos by Holland Lind and Margo Ashmore)