If you asked your family, friends or colleagues where their food comes from, what do you think they’d say? There’s a good chance many would respond with “the grocery store.” As the world becomes more urbanized, people become further and further removed from the sources of their food and drinking water. In fact, in a 2011 national poll, 77 percent of Americans could not correctly identify their source of drinking water. That’s troubling.

For these reasons and more, The Nature Conservancy is inviting people across the globe to join in the second annual “Picnic for the Planet” on or around Earth Day. The picnic is a celebration of the planet we live on, the bounty it provides and the people who work to protect it. In Santa Fe, the Conservancy is partnering with the Santa Fe Farmers Market for the second year in a row to host a local Picnic for the Planet on Saturday, April 21.

This is a natural partnership,” says Bob Ross, president of the board for the Farmers Market Institute. “The Farmers Market provides a venue to sell goods made by local farmers and producers while the Conservancy works to protect the land and waters they rely on. Our missions are aligned.”

This event will help connect people to the sources of their food in an easy and engaging way. It’s also a way to get families outside and foster a connection to the outdoors. Plus, it will provide an opportunity to educate people about the connection between conservation and our food and water supply.

The Nature Conservancy works closely with people around the world who produce our food — farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Here in New Mexico, the Conservancy works with producers across the state by collaborating on funding opportunities and supporting land improvements through restoration projects such as grassland recovery and watershed protection projects.

The global population will grow from six to nine million in a few decades, “says Terry Sullivan, state director for the Conservancy of New Mexico. “Conservancy scientists across the world are restoring our oceans, securing our water and conserving our lands to ensure we have food and water for generations to come. We encourage you to do your part: choose local and eat sustainably. It’s good for us and the planet.” The lower a food is on the food chain, the lower its impact on the environment. So, add more fruits, vegetables and grains to your picnic meal. Buying local also reduces the distance a food item travels from the farm to your table, helping minimize greenhouse gas emissions and often reducing packaging, which creates less waste.

At this year’s picnic, The Nature Conservancy’s booth will offer information about the group’s work, and a raffle. Picnic baskets decorated by local artists and filled with items from the Farmers Market will be given away during the event.

So, the Nature Conservancy suggests that, on the 21st, from 8 am – 1 pm, you can shop at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market for a locally grown picnic. Then, head over to the Railyard Park, adjacent to the market, to enjoy your food and community. After your meal, you can head up to the 525-acre Santa Fe Canyon Preserve and enjoy some time in nature by hiking the 1.5-mile interpretive trail.

People across the state and around the world are encouraged to get involved. The Nature Conservancy has created a website that offers information, ideas and tools for anyone who wants to plan a picnic: www.nature.org/NewMexico.