An Ode to Bees on National Honey bee Day
Close to 3/4 of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, and a big chunk of that is the humble honey bee. It’s difficult to fully grasp the vast and delicate balance that our ecosystem rests upon and the part that bees play in that. And for as much as we appreciate a drizzle of honey in our tea, many of us may overlook the larger implications surrounding honey bees and their dwindling populations. Let this blog serve as an opportunity for a newfound (or renewed) appreciation.
National Honey Bee Day, held every third Saturday of August, shines a light on these tireless pollinators and the equally tireless beekeepers tending to them. Beginning as a National Honey Bee Day in 2009, the essence of this day has spread and its purpose is twofold: to savor the sweet nectar that is honey and to stand in solidarity with efforts that sustain honey bee populations.
This year, we would like to help spotlight the amazing flight of the honey bee and capture the moments that accentuate its beauty and significance to us all.
Some Quick Fun Facts About Honey Bees:
- The amount of distance that bees travel in an effort to make enough honey for one jar is about 100,000 air miles
- When the temperature in the hive drops below anywhere 50 degrees in Winter, bees shiver themselves warm with the help of their flight muscles. In this way, they can heat their home back up to over 85 degrees
- Bees communicate with each other using a special “waggle dance.” Through specific movements, they can convey information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, water sources, or to new nest-site locations
- Bees can fly at a speed of up to 15 miles per hour and their wings beat about 200 times per second
Our connection to honey bees goes far beyond the jar of honey you have in your pantry. Their pollinating abilities play a critical role in our agricultural systems. Without their intervention, many foods that enrich our diet wouldn’t even make it to our plates in the first place. Global and national reports such as the annual Loss & Management Survey show that the decline in honey bee populations is alarming. This makes World Honey Bee Day more than just a day of acknowledgment—it’s a call to foster environments that support honey bees.
The rich agricultural landscape of Yolo County and its surroundings is a testament to the hard work of local farmers and, of course, our buzzing friends. However, the region’s dependency on pollinators like honey bees brings to light the urgent need for sustainable practices to bolster their populations. Pesticide use, habitat destruction, and other factors challenge their survival here.
While it’s pivotal for us to urge policymakers to devise bee-friendly policies, it’s equally essential for us to integrate practices into our daily lives that amplify their well-being right here at home.That’s why we prioritize sourcing from local, organic, and sustainable producers . This conscious choice aids in promoting bee-friendly agricultural practices so that we can preserve and uplift bee habitats.
While the blooming flowers of 2023 after a wet Winter have brought a prosperous season for our pollinators, it’s imperative that we maintain our momentum in supporting and celebrating them, not just today but every day. So, next time you spot a bee (or beekeeper for that matter), make sure you say something sweet as honey to them to show your appreciation.
Each year, the Co-op donates $0.10 for every pound of apples sold over the course of a year through our “Apple-a-Day” program. With 61,959 lbs of apples sold from July 2022 – June 2023, we were left with $6,196 to donate to a local organization.
For this year’s donation, we have chosen Ujamaa Farmer Collective
as our recipient.
as our recipient.
The $6,196 donation will directly support the Collective’s fundraising efforts to “build a Black-led, BIPOC-centered agriculture business cooperative committed to providing long-term, affordable land access for multiple existing BIPOC farmers/ranchers struggling with land security” here in Yolo County. In this blog we will tell you more about the vision of the Ujamaa Farmer Collective and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Ujamaa Farmer Collective Leadership Team
(pictured from left to right):
Keith Hudson (Grocery Croppers, LLC),
Brian Pinkney (We Grow Urban Farm),
Nathaniel Brown (Brown Sugar Farm),
Nelson Hawkins (We Grow Urban Farm)
To best understand these goals, we must first consider some historical context. In 1910, around 14% of farmers* in the US were Black and they owned more than 16 million acres across the country. Today only around 1% of US farmers are Black while nearly 95% are White. Many factors over the past 100 years have led to such a sharp decline.
* It should be noted that “farmer” is also known as “producer” in these counts and consists of a farm’s owner, a member of the owner’s family, a manager, a tenant, a renter, or a sharecropper and does not include the employees (known as farmworkers).
Since the early 20th century, Black farmers have faced a long history of injustices including unequal access to credit and federal aid. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has faced multiple lawsuits, including the landmark case of Pigford v. Glickman in 1999, for its history of discriminatory practices that have limited Black farmers’ abilities to invest in their farms and acquire land. Compounding these economic challenges, many Black farmers deal with the complex issue of heirs’ property – a form of land ownership that arises when a landowner dies without a will, leading to the vulnerable division of property amongst the deceased’s heirs. This precarious situation resulted in a 90% decline in Black-owned farmland nationwide between 1910 and 1997, resulting in an estimated capital loss of $326 billion . In addition to these systemic inequities, Black landowners have also faced intimidation, violence, and illegal land seizures, all furthering the gap in land access for Black farmers.
Enter the Ujamaa Farmer Collective. Meaning “fraternity or familyhood” in Swahili, the term “Ujamaa” is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa created through cooperative economics as a practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it.This is at the root of what the Ujamaa Farmer Collective hopes to achieve. Created by a compassionate group of advocates within the CDFA BIPOC Advisory Committee, the Collective has been created to work towards addressing the challenge of land tenure amongst historically underserved farmers.
Built upon the work of AB 1348: The Farmer Equity Act, the Collective notes in a blog on the Kitchen Table Advisors website that their focus is “to provide land for BIPOC farm businesses to steward through long-term, affordable leases. These leasing opportunities, ranging from ½ acre to 20-acre plots owned by the collective, will enable existing farm business owners to grow their operations on secure land parcels. The collective also aims to provide on-site housing for the farmers, allowing these business owners to fully immerse themselves in their farms while also raising and tending to their families”
The Collective has already successfully advocated for state funding to acquire a 50-100 acre parcel of land in Yolo County and recently attained counsel to aid them in establishing their 501(c)(3). They have raised $1.25 million towards their campaign goal of $2.5 million so far and are working with Possibility Labs as their fiscal sponsor to make this dream a reality. The work to choose and develop a site is underway as they continue to fundraise to build these equitable opportunities for Black and BIPOC farmers. While the Collective has made great progress, and the Co-op is happy to contribute towards that progress, the work is far from complete to reach their campaign goal of $2.5 million. That is where we are calling on our Co-op community to help support these continued efforts.
As a co-op in our community for the past 50 years, we know the power of collective effort to make changes in our local food systems. In recognizing that, we must also recognize that the changes that our co-op has influenced during that time have largely benefitted only White communities. As noted in an article on the Cool Davis website, supporting this project “is a once in a generation opportunity to do something well within our grasp that will have a significant positive impact right here at home. The impact will reverberate in all aspects of Yolo county racial equity lived experience, in our sustainable food system, in the resilience of our community”.
In conversations about environmental sustainability, it’s common for plastic to play the part as a universal villain.
Indeed, the harmful environmental impacts of plastic pollution are well-documented and significant. And while we spend the month of July recognizing Plastic Free July with calls to reduce our reliance on plastic, it’s critical to remember that the ability to completely avoid plastic consumption is a privilege that not everyone shares.
Plastic pollution not only disproportionately affects marginalized communities, it also greatly affects their ability to reduce plastic use due to socioeconomic circumstances. Undeniably, plastic has been so deeply woven into the fabric of our societies because it’s cheap, durable, and convenient. Because of this, communities in economically distressed regions often depend on plastic for its accessibility and affordability. To expect these communities to prioritize plastic reduction over immediate economic concerns is not only unfair, but also unfeasible.
This begs us to question – Who truly has the ability to avoid plastic use? The answer shouldn’t be surprising. Those who are best suited to afford to live a plastic-free lifestyle typically enjoy a certain level of economic stability and live in environments where plastic-free alternatives are readily available. They have the privilege to make this choice – a choice that is not universally accessible.
This is not a justification for complacency. Rather, it is a call to broaden our understanding and work towards true inclusive sustainability. Just as with our discussions on climate change and its disproportionate effects on marginalized groups, the dialogue on plastic consumption should also include its social and economic dimensions.
The discourse around plastic use reduction must include plastic-free options that are affordable and accessible to all communities. Green initiatives need to extend their reach beyond the privileged and include those on the front lines of plastic consumption. And most importantly, we should never shame people who make the decision to purchase plastic products. While we may be in a position to avoid plastic consumption, it is unfair to assume that everyone has that same luxury.
Inclusion is a key to a truly sustainable future. This blog serves as an invitation for us to widen our lens and recognize the privilege inherent in our consumption choices. It calls upon us to be advocates for change not just in our actions, but in our understanding of sustainability and the challenges faced by others in achieving it. The pursuit of sustainability should not be a luxury, but a necessity, and it must be done so through a process that holds those in power accountable so that it can be a pursuit that includes us all.
There are many excellent organizations that work at the intersection of environmental justice and social equity. Here are a few that you can learn more about:
Green For All is an organization that fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some. They work at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution.
The Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the U.S., has a program specifically dedicated to promoting environmental justice and reducing health disparities by engaging leaders in communities that are most affected by pollution.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that People of Color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders aims to serve as a resource to increase the capacity of philanthropy to support just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. They offer various resources and avenues for involvement.
Indigenous Environmental Network was established by grassroots Indigenous peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues, and to empower Indigenous communities towards sustainable livelihoods and preserving their cultures.
The Davis Food Co-op is more than a grocery store, it is a collective of people who have the power to shape local, national, and global food systems.
Right now in the United States, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in the journey to redefine our food system. The future of our food is being decided by lawmakers right now.
The best part? You have the power to voice your opinion to help shape it.
The Farm Bill, a crucial piece of legislation that can set the tone for our nation’s food and agriculture policy, is currently under review. Our elected officials are considering which proposals will be included in this year’s bill – decisions that will impact our food system for the next five years. We believe it’s time for a more equitable food system that puts farmworkers first and is more just, resilient, and regenerative, and that’s where you come in. By familiarizing yourself with the Bill and Acts that accompany it, you can put yourself in a position to advocate for that which you feel most strongly about.
A recent blog from National Co+op Grocers (NCG) provides you with a detailed list of current (and growing) proposed bills, outlining what they aim to achieve and who supports them. Whether it’s a bill that champions small-scale farmers or one that incentivizes organic farming, you can find the ones that you resonate with and lend them your support.
As part of NCG, we strive to advocate for our communities’ shared priorities for the food system. Together, we can make our voices heard and play a role in shaping a sustainable and equitable food landscape. Want to get involved but not sure where to start? No worries, the blog post above has you covered with easy instructions on how to contact Congress, whether you prefer to make a phone call or write an email. You’ll also find some tips to help you articulate your support.
The changes we want to see in the world often start from the grassroots. By raising our voices in numbers to our elected officials, we can influence policies that impact our food, our farmers, and ultimately, our communities. Let’s work together to create the food system we all deserve. Let’s act now, the food future depends on it!
Our society should work for everyone
This should not be as lofty of a goal as it is made out to be. And yet, this simple idea must work through a web of institutional failures that we are tasked with undoing and fixing in order to become a reality. This work requires, among many other aspects, a firm commitment to democracy on both a national and local level.
A strong democratic society ensures that all voices are heard, resources are allocated equitably and decisions are made in the best interest of the entire community instead of just a select few. The ways in which a community can uphold democracy are extensive. Quality education and information sharing, political representation that reflects the identity of the community, and open public forums that encourage healthy debate are a few of the examples that may come to mind first. In addition, (and we may be biased on this) one of the most effective ways for a community to practice democracy is through the building and sustaining of local cooperatives.
Cooperatives (aka co-ops) are community-owned and operated groups and businesses that are democratic by nature. Whether they are a consumer, producer, agricultural, worker, housing, or any other type of co-op, their democratic processes prioritize shared decision-making which ultimately creates a more equitable distribution of resources. By giving Members/Owners a say in how the business or group is run, cooperatives ensure that the community’s needs are met in a way that benefits everyone in the collective.
Consumer grocery co-ops (like us!), in particular, can play a significant role in keeping communities democratic. These stores not only provide access to fresh, local, and healthy food, they operate under a cooperative model that give Owners a say in how the business is run, ensuring that it always serves the needs of the community. This means that a grocery co-op can be more than just a grocery store; it can be a pillar in their city that makes decisions around philanthropy, sustainable practices, inclusion, and more that help define the community in a way that traditional corporations often cannot, or will not.
As a community-owned store that started as a buying club in 1972, the Davis Food Co-op is proud to play a significant role in promoting democracy and equity throughout our organization as well as in the City of Davis and Yolo County at large. We believe that democracy is an essential part of establishing a just and equitable society and we know that process begins in our own community. By giving our Owners the ability to vote and run for our Board of Directors, we ensure that the entire community’s needs are addressed in the business decisions that we make. By promoting shared decision-making and a commitment to the greater good, our co-op can continue to build a future where our community works to serve everyone and can hopefully inspire others to strive for more control over their resources and decision-making as well.
As of the posting of this blog on 5/11/23, we are currently in the process of our Annual Elections. From now until 5/20/23, Davis Food Co-op Owners have the opportunity to vote online for three new Board Members as well as four new Round Up at the Register recipients. To sweeten the deal even more this year, we will be raffling off a $100 gift card to a lucky Owner simply for voting. For more information, visit our Elections page here.
Not yet an Owner but want to learn how you can become one? Visit us in store at the Customer Service Desk or at our Ownership page here.
Each year, the Co-op donates $0.10 for every pound of apples sold over the course of our fiscal year through our “Apple a Day” program. With 60,275.25 lbs of apples sold from October 2021 – September 2022, we were left with $6,275.25 to donate to a local nonprofit organization.
For this year’s donation, we have chosen Davis Forest School as our recipient.
The $6,275.25 donation will directly support the expansion of their Winter 2023 Program to include an additional skill-based class for 15 more children in the Davis community.
Our Marketing Manager Vince and Education and Outreach Specialist Anna recently sat down with founder Candice Wang, and had her answer a few questions about Davis Forest School:
1. Can you Tell us about Davis Forest School and how it came to fruition?
Davis Forest School is a non-profit nature play and outdoor education organization, and
was founded in early 2018. Our goal is to promote and cultivate understanding of, and
empathy for, the natural world, and for the local bioregion (in particular, the ecosystem of Putah Creek and the lower Sacramento River watershed).
Our programming is based on the forest school model, which meets outdoors in the wild, over time, and is a co-creating experience between children and the Forest Mentors.
This organization came to fruition from me being a mother to very spirited and wild
children. Motherhood was an initiation into deconditioning and healing from certain
aspects of my own childhood, and a commitment to following the lead of my children in
what they need. We discovered the forest school model together, and the first time I
spent hours in nature with my kiddos, I just felt so much peace. I could see all the ways
we are disconnected from our lives, each other, the land, and how important it is to find a sense of connection again. My children’s wildness led me to this work, and the layers of depth with our connection to this land keeps me here.
Davis Forest School is also a testament of what can be created from a tapestry of
community members who share a vision and are deeply devoted and passionate to their work. Rosemary Roberts, a parent to one of our first students, took on running the
school when I moved away for a couple of years, and was the person to establish DFS
as a community entity. We are now supported and led by a team of parents behind the
scenes. We also have the most wonderful Forest Mentors who take so much ownership
over what we do, such as Molly Damore Johann, who was the person to connect us
with this opportunity with the Davis Food Co-op.
2. Why do you believe this way of schooling is a good alternative to formal schooling?
For now, we don’t replace other schooling models because we mostly run as an
afterschool program (although we have a homeschool morning class that we would like to expand!). Our organization is more of a counter environment to the formal schooling that children receive, and divests from our culture’s fixation on busyness. Rather than having a top-down model of education, we allow space for spontaneous learning through unstructured imaginative play and exploration. Our staff members are “Forest Mentors”, and not “teachers”, and take on the role of guides for the kiddos during our time out in nature together. We trust children in their innate sense to learn through play and exploration. Our programming is child-led, although we follow a daily rhythm and include naturalist studies, nature connection routines, and earth skills. When children are told what to do, what they need to learn, or what our time together should look like, this can cause them to shut down and resist what’s in front of them. When children have space to just be, their curiosity and sense of openness expands. Children learn so much from following their curiosities, and by returning to the same natural spaces over and over again, throughout the seasons and years.
3. Why is land acknowledgement and reparations an important part of Davis
Our work is deeply entwined with the land. Since time immemorial, the Patwin people have been stewards of this land. Acknowledging that we are on occupied Patwin land, through words, is the very bare minimum entry into land acknowledgement. We are learning that true land acknowledgement comes from how we run our program, and through partnering with Indigenous folks and support organizations. As a society, we need to move away from a model where we commodify nature, where we view it as something to further extract from. Nature programming can easily become about how nature can serve us. Beyond words, land acknowledgment is embracing and honoring Indigenous models of being in reciprocal relationship with the land.
DFS offers reparations to our Black and Indigenous families because we are running land-based programming on stolen land, in a country that was built on the backs of Black labor. Offering reparations is also a step towards dismantling systems of power, and prioritizing equity, in outdoor spaces.