Where have all the flowers gone?
Bats are the primary pollinators of several species of agave plants, the basis for Tequila and Mezcal. Due to incredible growth in the Tequila market, producers now use cloned plants and harvest them before they flower. This farming practice has critically reduced the pollen available to bats, including the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat and the Lesser long-nosed bat.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico and the non-profit Tequila Interchange Project work together to educate producers and the public about the extinction of these bats. They certify a standard called Bat Friendly to promote bat-friendly agriculture, which includes allowing a 5% of the agave population to flower before harvest.
A note from the artist:
In college, I took a train south from the United States through the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Riding in the open air on a flat car in the evening, I saw miles and miles of agave fields. There were shallow, rolling red hills covered with massive silver blue-green cactus. I have never forgotten this. When I learned about the fate of bats and decided to create a drawing, I read myths about the goddess Mayahuel and the beautiful story of her fall from heaven. I found texts and drawings from centuries ago where she was depicted as an Agave. Her story is not mine to tell. In the end, I drew from my own experience of the landscape and the cycle of time in Pete Seeger's song.
Where have all the flowers gone? is based on Pete Seeger's song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Image credit - Creative Commons Agave Banner