The decline in the bee and butterfly populations is something we’ve all read about in recent years. This matters as, besides enjoying the company of these insects (when they’re not stinging us), they play a critical role pollinating the plants that become the food we eat. There is some debate about the cause of this decline, but what is not debatable is that this is bad news for everyone. To draw attention to the problem and possible solutions, the United States Senate declared June 16 – 22, 2014 National Pollinators Week.

For such a large problem, what can we do as individuals? Well, we know that Monarch caterpillars can eat only milkweed. Since the habitats that support milkweeds and other native plants are rapidly being developed, the monarch is struggling to find it’s once plentiful food source. The Monarch migration is listed as “Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. We can all take action by planting a milkweed asclepias species (a plant that is not a weed at all), and contribute to Monarch conservation. A few other actions we can take include:

  • Chose native It’s good practice in general to choose native plants that bloom across all the seasons as bees need to forage even when food plants are not flowering.
  • Organic Forest Park Community Garden promotes using organic materials in the garden which will further assists the rebuild of the pollinator population.
  • Give me shelter Did you know that many of our pollinators spend the winter in our yards and gardens? Consider providing shelter and nesting sites for native bees and other pollinators.

We all need sun, sustenance, and love–even the insects in “our” world.

Additional Resources – National American Butterfly Association – Bring Back The Pollinators

In Season Now
One of the foods we should all make an effort to enjoy right this very minute are local strawberries. The Oak Park farmer’s market is currently teeming with them, coming in many varieties. While they are wonderful eaten out of hand ASAP, if you are like many of the gardeners in town, you may be overzealous in your purchasing. This could necessitate the creation of some strawberry-based baked goods.

From the Forest Park Review archives comes a recipe from June 20, 1935 for Strawberry Graham Cracker Pie. This relatively simple recipe makes it great for an everyday desert. Enjoy it in your garden, watching your Milkweed and contemlating the Forest Parkers (both human and insect who came before us, and who will come after. 

24 or 1 ½ cup graham crackers (rolled)
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted

Mix all and put into buttered pie shell Bake 10 min.—350*

2 pts strawberries, divided
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
Whipped cream, to top

Crush 1 pt. strawberries and add 1 cup sugar. Let stand 20 min. Place on fire, bring to boil, thicken with
2 tbsp. cornstarch. Allow to cool. While cooling, add remaining strawberries to pie crust. Pour cooled strawberry-sugar mixture over pie. Top with whipped cream.

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