The oases of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico, harbor farming systems with crops first introduced by Jesuit missionaries during their political, economic, and ecclesiastical dominance from 1697–1768. The oases represent geographies of historic dissemination and hold assemblages of heirloom perennial crop species with origins in six of seven continents.
The first Jesuit missionaries to the peninsula documented their agricultural introductions in detail, and these historic documents along with records from subsequent Franciscan and Dominican missionaries provide a benchmark by which to measure the persistence and/or loss of perennial crop species.
At dawn on this year’s spring equinox, a group of people gathered in Patagonia, Arizona, to declare the Sonoita Creek – Upper Santa Cruz River watershed the Pollinator Capital of the United States. An interpretive sign, erected in a pollinator garden on Patagonia’s village green, noted that hundreds of species of native bees, dozens of species of butterflies and moths, fourteen species of hummingbirds, and two species of nectar-feeding bats regularly frequent the native flowers in this semi-arid landscape.
But the Patagonia community has not merely been interested in how much pollinator diversity has been recorded throughout this watershed. Its citizens and its nonprofit and for-profit organizations have joined forces to catalyze the Borderland Habitat Restoration Initiative, which aims to ensure a safer place for pollinators, their nectar sources, and, in the case of butterflies and moths, their larval host plants.
The premise of this initiative is to demonstrate that food and fiber can be viably farmed across North America without the inappropriate use of glyphosate herbicides decimating milkweeds on farms and triggering further declines in monarch butterfly populations.
We wish to positively promote best practices already being used by certain farmers to keep milkweeds and monarchs healthy in our farm-capes.
It is puzzling that Monsanto’s Vice President Robert Fraley recently became one of the recipients of the World Food Prize for providing GMO seeds to combat the effects of climate change, just weeks after Monsanto itself reported a $264 million loss this quarter because of a decline in interest and plummeting sales in its genetically engineered “climate-ready” seeds.
And since Fraley received his award, the production of GMO corn has been formally banned by Mexico, undoubtedly seen as one of Monsanto’s major potential markets.