Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
We went to Washington D.C. over the Easter Holiday at the invitation of the Montgomery County Maryland Beekeepers Association to work with them at the Annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House. There beekeepers, Master Gardeners, Whole Earth Foods, Seed Savers and a lot of other groups have small displays on the South Lawn all day, instructing and informing people who are visiting and taking part in the egg roll about all manner of green and growing things. Something like 30,000 people attend this event, and it’s a great opportunity to expose people to gardening, beekeeping and pollination, good food recipes and cooking, and assorted activities like hula-hoop spinning, egg dying, and listening to lots of good, live music.
Though we were supposed to be focusing on our task at hand, it was impossible for me to not notice the ongoing show around me. Several thousand children, and their parents, would begin to line up outside the White House gates an hour or so before their allotted time, which had been predetermined by a lottery … families wrote in for an invitation and from many, many thousands, several thousand were chosen. Families from all 50 states were present I’m told.
When the appointed time came, those guests already inside were slowly invited to head out of another gate to gather in their special commemorative Easter egg and gift and call it a day. A quick spiff up was conducted by the hundreds of volunteers inside, new eggs hidden in the straw beds prepared, apples and oranges refilled to give away, hula hoops restocked so talented youngsters could take them away, egg dye containers refilled, seed saver containers filled and strung on a necklace and a collective breath taken before the next group came in.
As the families wandered from the entrance to the egg roll to the egg finding to the food to the band to the cooking tent…they eventually came to the Beekeeping tent and the White House Bee Hive. The Montgomery Beekeepers did a good job with the posters and displays. They had them spread out so there wasn’t bunches in one place and nobody in another, and there were volunteers … Kathy and I included … standing at tables with frames, foundation, comb, and the like for kids to touch, smell, see and ask about. Charlie Brandts, the White House beekeeper was there, sometimes answering questions, but mostly making sure everybody had everything they needed, and then heading over to the area of fenced-off beehive and answering questions there, and helping out the rest of the volunteers where were helping kids into kid-size beesuits. Charlie seemed to be everywhere all the time … a remarkable feat. He even brought sandwiches for the volunteers …
Photos by Kim Flottum