The Great Sunflower Project

People all over the country are collecting data on pollinators in their yards, gardens, schools and parks. Together, we take counts of the number and types of pollinators visiting plants (especially sunflowers). We have been gathering information on pollinator service since 2008, and now have the largest single body of information about bee pollinator service in North America. Thanks to our thousands of observers, we can determine where pollinator service is strong or weak compared to averages.

Why It’s Important

Over the past few years, scientific studies have suggested that both honey bee and native bee populations are in trouble. What we don’t know is how this is affecting pollination of our gardens, crops and wild lands. In 2008, we started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations and to give you the tools to learn about what is happening with the pollinators in your yard.

How You Can Help

While we love to get data from our namesake species, Lemon Queen Sunflowers, you can participate by watching a plant and recording how many pollinators visit, or recording pollinators as you take your favorite hike!

Seeds can be purchased at your local store or through Renee’s Garden who will donate 25% of her proceeds if you use the coupon code FR225A. Do join us!

We would love to have you; let’s help our most important pollinators together!


GR:  Here’s a splendid opportunity to contribute to nature conservation.  Choose a location and make a checklist of the butterflies, bumblebees, and hummingbirds you see.  Report your results to the Great Sunflower Project.  Now you’re working.

Read more about the practical value of checklists.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Ending Neonic and GMO Use in Most National Wildlife Refuges

These elements of “industrial agriculture” are not needed at refuges.  Pressure to ban neonictinoid pesticides and mobilization against GE crops has been growing. The U.S. government is perceived by man…


GR:  The US Fish and Wildlife Service will terminate use of Neonics and GMOs in most wildlife refuges by 2016. Let’s hope this is the start of a change across the US Department of the Interior, the largest manager of US public lands. It will be a struggle; Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, and the other large producers of pesticides and/or GMOs will oppose the change with millions of dollars spent on politicians and leaders of the Interior Department’s nine bureaus.

Tell Congress to Protect Your Right to Know: Oppose the DARK Act; Don’t Hide Food Contents

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, along with allies like Monsanto and Dow, have teamed up with Koch-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce a federal bill that would deny your right to know what is in your food.

This bill, (HR 4432), which has been called the “Denying Americans the Right-to-Know Act” (DARK Act), is on the march and has just gained 20 new Republican co-sponsors, bringing the total up to 25. That’s 25 members of Congress who stand with industry in an effort to keep consumers in the dark.

“This backwards bill would:

  • Prevent states from adopting their own GE labeling laws.
  • Block any attempt by states to make it illegal for food companies to put a “natural” label on products that contain GE ingredients.
  • Prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label GE ingredients and instead continue a failed “voluntary” labeling policy.

“GE labeling is important to Americans, with over 90% consistently supporting transparency in the marketplace through mandatory GE labeling. In 2013 and 2014 there were over 70 GE labeling bills and ballot initiatives introduced across 30 states, with laws being passed in Maine, Connecticut and Vermont. The DARK Act would shut down these efforts and replace them with an undemocratic, hollow “voluntary” labeling scheme. In the 13 years that FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label GE foods, a total of zero companies have done so.  This is not the solution consumers have been demanding.”


GR:  Here’s congress teaming with industry to block our right to know what’s in our food.  And this time it’s the Republicans.

Pesticide-resistant GMO crops pose a serious threat.  Now that we know pesticides are killing pollinators and other essential elements of our Earth ecosystems, we need to be able to discourage pesticide use by avoiding the foods made from resistant GMO’s.

Don’t Forget Butterflies! Our Pollination Crisis Is About More Than Honeybees

When the White House signed an order on pollinator health last week, it included all pollinators — not just honeybees.

“Obama announces plan to save honeybees,” CNN proclaimed. “White House creates new honeybee task force,” the Wire echoed. “White House task force charged with saving bees from mysterious decline,” the Guardian added, referencing the colony collapse disorder that contributed to the death of 23 percent of managed honeybees last winter.

“But those headlines overlooked the most important part of the presidential order: it encompassed all pollinators, including birds, bats, native bees, and butterflies — not just honeybees. The memorandum will spur the creation, within the next 180 days, of a National Pollinator Health Strategy that will lay out ways for the U.S. to better study and better tackle the problems facing pollinators, both wild and managed. While the plight of bees has gotten deserved attention of late, many species of pollinators face the same threats: habitat destruction, climate-induced changes in flowering and weather patterns, and in some cases, pesticides.”


GR:  Dropping pesticides and interspersing food plants with crops will help pollinators, but there are other things to consider.  Construction, farming, logging, livestock grazing, invasive species, and toxic pollutants (including greenhouse gasses) are eliminating habitat much faster than farmers are recovering it.  Until humans control their population and correct the ways they use resources, pollinators and other species will continue to decline.