Pollinator Workshop at Te Oraka

Pollinator Workshop at Te Oraka

What’s all the buzz about?

Last Saturday, Animal Aquatic Plant Ecological Society (AAPES) and Slow Food Youth Otago (SFYO) joined forces to host a pollinator workshop at Te Oraka. The workshop had it all: “pollinator activities, groovy tunes and yummy snacks”.

What even are “pollinator activities,” you may ask? Well, they include such riveting stuff as examining the microscopic structure of flowers, making seed bombs and toilet roll seed pods, learning about vertebrates such as birds and bats, feeding honey bees with sugar syrup and identifying various bees. The chilled, wholesome vibe attracted quite a few students, including Tessa, who said: “This is the most fun thing to do on a Saturday morning.” Jade, a 2nd year student in the process of making a seed bomb, told Critic Te Ārohi that her flat won’t have a garden next year so she plans to “throw [the seed bomb] over the fence and give [the neighbours] a bomb of colourful joy.” 

According to Rose from AAPES and Gabby from SFYO, the collab between the two clubs came about quite naturally. With AAPES being the “student club for all things natural” and SFYO focused more on “sustainable food systems and awareness of kai” (we profiled them in Issue 6, 2022), the two club heads were looking for ways to work together. What do you know: when you put food and insects together, you get pollination. “And that’s where the seed [bomb sessions] started,” said Gabby. The initiative soon blossomed (get it?) as the environmental groups reached out to the zoology, botany and ecology departments, who enthusiastically responded. “From what started off as a seed bomb making session grew and grew and now we have like 10 stalls,” said Rose.

If you didn’t already know from NCEA Science, pollinators are very important. Even though this month is Bee Awareness Month, lots of other things pollinate too – in Aotearoa, tūī and korimako (bellbirds) do the mahi for our native species. Despite our reliance on pollinators, “people don't realise how big pollination is in our everyday lives,” said Rose. “Without bees and other pollinators, we wouldn't have life,” added Gabby, continuing: “We wouldn't have chocolate, coffee, potato chips without the bees.” Life’s essentials, in other words. While everyone Critic Te Ārohi spoke to at the workshop seemed pretty switched on, this could be due to the fact that if you are going to a pollinator workshop, you would probably know a thing or two about pollinators. Selection bias, or something like that. 

Biodiversity is critical for pollinators to survive whilst monoculturalism, such as that created through intensive agricultural practices, risks it all by taking away food for pollinators. “Introducing biodiversity can be put into every decision we make with climate change and transitioning to a more sustainable regenerative economy,” said Gabby. 

If playing with seeds, flowers and generally frolicking in nature floats your boat, you can reach out to AAPES and SFYO on Instagram, or follow Te Oraka and Sustainability at Otago, for the freshest events.

This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2022.
Posted 1:41pm Saturday 24th September 2022 by Zak Rudin.