FARMINGTON – “Give Bees a Chance” is the theme of the annual Spring Gardening Festival at San Juan College from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6.
The event includes a plant sale hosted by the horticulture program at San Juan College, as well as live music, food and loads of gardening information.
“The students have grown a variety of garden crops that will thrive here in the Four Corners area,” said Kevin Lombard, New Mexico State University associate professor who teaches horticulture at San Juan College. “It’s a great one-stop-shop for getting ready for the gardening season.”
The bee population in San Juan County has declined. Activities during the day will educate the participants about bees and help provide more pollinator plants to support the bees.
“There is a lot of information in the media about bee population declining, but the decline in San Juan County is not for the reasons stated in the media,” said Bonnie Hopkins, NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agent in San Juan County. “For the last few years we’ve had some really early blooms on our plants, especially fruit trees, and then we’ve had some killing frost, which has devastated our bee population.”
Don Hyder, San Juan College biology teacher, will conduct a workshop on bees during the festival.
Guest speaker for the event is David DuBois, NMSU climatologist. He will talk about climate change from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. During his lecture he will train people how to collect weather data for the statewide Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
“Master Gardeners and community members are invited to help with this project,” Hopkins said. “They will measure the precipitation that falls in their backyard and contribute it to weather information that is posted through the New Mexico Climate Center housed at NMSU.”
Festival activities for the youth include the San Juan County Soil and Water District’s annual poster challenge for fourth-graders. The children will create a poster on soil. The posters will be on display and judged during the festival.
To help provide pollinator plants for the bee population, children have been making seed balls under the direction of San Juan College horticulture students. The balls made from soil, potting clay and wildflower seeds will be thrown into the field behind the SJC Greenhouse at noon.
“We have hundreds of these balls to throw into the area we want the plants to grow,” said Hopkins. “Moisture will dissolve the ball and wildflowers will grow where it landed. Hopefully, we will have a field of wildflowers for next year’s festival.”
The festival will also include a plant sale and Master Gardeners will be present to answer gardening questions.