Quilters partner in support of the industrious honey bee

Hope Johnson sews to support bee research. Courtesy photo
Hope Johnson sews to support bee research. Courtesy photo

Diana Sammataro and Hope Johnson of Vermont Quilt Bee, and their respective quilt guilds in Arizona and Vermont have partnered to create a community quilt to raise funds for food security, biodiversity and increased standard of living using the example set by the industrious honey bee.

In July 2014 at the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) Conference in Richmond, KY, quilter Hope Johnson of Shelburne met Diana Sammataro, a retired bee researcher and member of the Tucson Quilters Guild in Arizona.

They discussed the current plight of the honey bee and Johnson mentioned the idea of making a community quilt to raise funds for honey bee research. Sammataro, a veteran Peace Corp volunteer, suggested the nonprofit Bees for Development (BfD) as a worthy recipient of funds raised from the sale of a community quilt featuring the honey bee. BfD provides beekeeping training and marketing of related products to enable poor communities to develop their own sustainable income and improve their standard of living.

Johnson and Sammataro decided to make the quilt project a joint effort of the Champlain Valley Quilters Guild of Vermont and the Tucson Quilters Guild. More than 36 members of both guilds created appliqué sunflower blocks that were assembled and quilted by Hope using her original pattern made especially for the quilt.

In February 2015, Johnson was selected to present the story of the BfD quilt at the Growing the Good Food Movement: Story and Poetry Slam during the Northeast Organic Farmers Association Winter Conference at the University of Vermont. Hope said, “My personal creative journey has led to connections of which I never would have imagined. If my art can make a positive difference, to help sustain as well as inspire others, then I can’t think of a more meaningful and gratifying reason for my creative work.”

Once the quilt was completed, it was appraised by quilt expert Robert Shaw of Art of the Quilt and made its public debut at the EAS conference in Guelph, Canada on Aug. 10. Shortly after the conference, beekeepers in Rhode Island made a donation of $2,700 to BfD. Upon receipt of the donation, Nicola Bradbear, Director of BfD, said, “Thank you all for this marvelous support, a significant help for the work in Ethiopia.”

Reflecting on the outcome, Sammataro said, “It was such a great experience, power to the quilters.”

Evelyn George, Member-At-Large of Tucson Quilters Guild, said, “Bees are very special to us quilters as symbols of working together for betterment of the community.”

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