Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Great Sunflower Project
Welcome Fred! I am delighted to introduce our new Outreach Director, Fred Bové. Fred brings a combination of skills to the position that will help us work with you to improve and expand the Great Sunflower Project. Fred combines the knowledge and insight of a trained market researcher with extensive horticultural knowledge gained from a lifetime of study. In his former life, he worked conducting surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews for a range of technology and Fortune 500 companies. He served as chapter president of the American Marketing Association and was president and founder of the Mariposa Group, a company specializing in niche audience research.
According to family sources, Fred knew the names of the plants and flowers in the gardens and woods surrounding his home at the age of four. His lifelong study of plants as food and medicine led him to permaculture – a system of design that mimics nature. He is a Certified Permaculture Designer, consultant and teacher, having studied Permaculture techniques and practices in Northern California and Hawai’i.
Recently, Fred served as Associate Director of Adult Education at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, where he developed programming, exhibits, tours, and public events designed to connect plants with people. He currently teaches permaculture at UC Berkeley Extension, and regularly leads edible forage walks in the wilds of San Francisco.
To make it easier for you to get in touch with Fred (our email inbox is just overwhelmed), we have set up the “Ask Freddy B Forum”. Please share your ideas and questions with Fred there!
Other species reminder. In 2009, we have expanded the plants from which you can collect data. If you have limited time, please ONLY do the Sunflower!! The other plants we are interested in are: Bee balm, Cosmos, Rosemary, Tickseed, and Purple coneflower. We chose these because there are not many varieties so, we can be sure that the reward offered by each plant is fairly similar from garden to garden. We'd love to pick a plant like sage but, there are thousands of varieties. While we have included rosemary, we strongly encourage everyone to plant natives!
Phenology. We also want to encourage everyone to keep track of their plant phenology! Last year, we contributed more data to the National Phenology Network than any other group. We’d love to do that again.
Chia. And finally, if you don’t have enough to do this summer, Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a promising pollinator provider and cover crop. Don Weber of USDA Agricultural Research Service is encouraging trials under a variety of growing conditions to see what its full potential is. Yes, it’s the same chia as in “Ch-ch-chia Pet”! But aside from sprouting on whimsical ceramic figures, it is a tall annual in the mint family, native to Central America and Mexico, and was the 3rd most important staple of the Aztecs, to say nothing of its special nutritional benefits. Many mints are great bee plants but many are also aggressive perennials which will take over a garden. Not chia, which may offer the pollinator benefits of the mint family without the aggressive, weedy side. Please see Don’s website and links for more info. Email Don.Weber@ars.usda.gov with exact subject line “Chia seed” for your free seed (subject to availability) and instructions on planting it and reporting your results!
Happy Spring! Remember to do your Garden Description online!
The Queen Bee
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