Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Bee SAFE (Securing a Food Economy) in Lumby, headed by Huguette Allen, Carla Vierke and Jane Emlyn, is such a group.
The non-profit group recently opened an office to provide information and education about genetically modified crops, the increasing loss of bees necessary to pollinate crops, and a variety of agricultural and environmental technologies and issues.
“We’re a reaction to the fact that it is not mandatory in Canada to label food that has genetically modified components, or for farmers to alert their neighbours when they are growing GMO crops,” said Vierke,
“Our communities have become disconnected and we need to get back to small farms that grow diverse crops of healthy food to sustain our local economy.”
Bee SAFE is making itself visible in the community with signs that people can put on farms and any property indicating that what is grown there is non-GMO and nothing that would harm bees is used there.
“What is safe for bees is safe for us,” said Allen.
“The chemical companies swore that the seeds and the strong pesticides that are used on them are safe but the genetic modification is of a kind that would never occur in nature.”
The Bee SAFE founders are concerned Canadians have little information to help them make choices about the food they buy.
“The GMO crops can cross contaminate other crops, including related wild plants, with unforeseeable consequences. Maybe we’ll get super-weeds,” said Vierke.
“They tell us that we need these methods to feed the world but the reality is that most GMO crops are used for bio-fuel, not for food.”
Bee SAFE would like to see people putting signs on their property, talking to politicians, writing letters and signing petitions if they don’t agree with GMO farming and want to see support for local food suppliers.
“Our goal here with the office is to educate people. Decisions about GMO and big agriculture, which uses so much fossil fuel, are made without the public knowing and most people feel powerless.
“We know there are GMO crops being grown locally but the only thing we can do is educate,” said Vierke.
“We want to see farm-gate sales re-instated and for people to have more choice of local food and for whatever they buy.
“Having a safe, sustainable, local food supply will be good for our health, the health of the planet and for our local economy. I think people will have to speak loudly to say that we don’t find this acceptable.”
Bee SAFE has a number of projects planned for spring, including a planting calendar (what you should plant and when for our area), and workshops on how to tell if seeds are safe for bees and growing strong seedlings; gardening without pesticides; water conservation gardening; making and using compost; and planning and planting your garden (companion planting, rotating and management of crops).
Summer workshops will deal with food distribution (what is available and where) and food harvesting, while fall workshops will cover food conservation (drying and canning).
The Bee SAFE office, sponsored by SENS (Sustainable Environment Network Society), is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at 1961, Vernon Street, Lumby.
For more information, contact 778-473-3029, BeeSafeMonashee@gmail.com or see www.sensociety.org/?q=BeeSAFE.