Stop and think for a minute what you have eaten today. Fruit? Veggies? If you’ve had an apple or some zucchini, chances are you were able to consume it because of pollination.

So, what is pollination?

In a nutshell, it’s the transfer of pollen to allow for fertilization. And it’s done by pollinators, like bees, wasps and even birds. Many plants depend on pollinators to reproduce – and that reproduction produces things like fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Plants, namely flowers, are like humans in a way. Some have male parts and some have female parts. The male parts, or anthers, produce pollen. The female parts, or the stigma, is sticky and contains an ovary with eggs. To make seeds (and grow things), plants need that pollen transferred. But the catch is, the plants can’t do this themselves.

They do produce nectar to tempt pollinators, though!

The pollinators aren’t doing the work because they want to fertilize the plants. They are doing it for the nectar, which is food for them and their young.

They get in the plant to get the nectar and the pollen clings to them and then as they move on to other flowers, that pollen falls off – this is called pollination!

Only about 5-8% of crops depend on pollinators but pollination has other benefits because it helps grow more crops or makes them taste better. In reality, about 75% of crops depend on some kind of pollination.

So, what vegetables need some kind of pollination? Ones that grow from flowers, like squash, zucchini, melons and pumpkins. If they don’t have pollination from the male to female flowers, they do not grow.

And fruits are similar but some can also get pollen from different types of the same fruit. Which is why you might see crabapple trees in apple orchards. Crabapples produce a lot of pollen and so other apple trees can be pollenated with it.

In the wild, lots of plants depend on pollinators as well. This is important because other insects and animals depend on those plants for their food as well.

In short, pollinators are a vital part of not only farming, but also our entire ecosystem.

Fresh Forward

At Fresh Forward, feeding families is our passion. We work with local farmers to get the best, and freshest, produce on your family’s table. Ask your favorite grocery store, farm stand or produce market to carry Fresh Forward products.

Learn more about the Fresh Forward mission here.