OPENeducation was a daytime event at the Berkeley Art Museum, and part of the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary weekend. The event gathered 15 or so organizations creating an outdoor classroom, with kids and adults doing the educating, learning and eating.
There was a lot to experience at the event. I surveyed the whole area with my camera, but will focus on two subjects for my posts: the Napa Valley Bee Observatory and Bob Cannard of Green Strings Farm (which will post on Thursday).
Edible Schoolyard student making chapati
The Napa Valley Bee Company
"When I ask kids what a bee does, they always say 'they make honey.' And sure they do, but they have something more important that they do. They pollinate." That's how Michael Lauher of Connolly Ranch and the Napa Valley Bee Company started to answer my vague question, "So can you tell me a little bit of what's going on here?"
The Napa Valley Bee Company set-up looked fun and colorful. So I snapped some pictures of the hive and the cute VW van with a human child ornament. But I couldn't tell what this was all about because there was no honey in sight!
That's when I started talking to Michael. The Napa Valley Bee Company is an organization that teaches local communities on the importance of the local honey bee including how they help create diversity in farms and how they make our foods healthier and tastier. They do not sell honey. Instead they drive the Mobile Bee Observatory all around the Bay Area to share their enthusiasm about bees including visiting schools and teaching classes about urban beekeeping.
When asked how Connolly Ranch has changed since the introduction of honey bees, Michael said that the farm diversified. Originally, the farm was mostly growing edible foods, but when the bees landed, it became apparent that flowers had to be grown on the farm for optimal honey bee health. Diversity contributed to more pollination and more bounty.
Due to a lack of space, Rob Keller and Michael were unable to haul the actual bee mobile to the event. This will give me an excuse to haul my ass out to Napa sometime and see the retrofitted 1963 Airstream aka the worlds largest mobile honeybee observation hive.
*Stay tuned for another OPENeducation report coming up on Thursday!