Meet an Iowa Farmer Who Puts Pollinators First
“It sounds kind of crazy, you know, dumping gravel in the middle of your field,” says fifth-generation farmer Andrew Dunham, “if you don’t understand the ecological process.”
Andrew’s voice brims with enthusiasm as he discusses his latest plan to improve habitat for native bees and other beneficial insects on Grinnell Heritage Farm, his 80-acre organic farm in central Iowa. He’s eager to explain the ecological logic that undergirds his innovations in the fields.
Native bees are crucial to fruit and vegetable production in the Midwest. There are more than 4,000 species in North America, and each has different pollen and nesting requirements to survive. To help accommodate those needs, Andrew and his team have planted about 1,500 flowering shrubs around the farm. They’ve also planted banks of bunch grasses to provide a comfy tuft where bumble bees and other beneficial insects can bed down for the winter — and avoid drowning when the snow melts in the spring.
“Some of these beneficial insects do not travel far, distance-wise. So if you have, say, a huge field of broccoli, like 500 acres, and you don’t have these features in the middle of your farm, but you do on the edges, you might be getting some of that beneficial insect help on the edges of your field, but you’re definitely not getting them in the center of your field,” says Andrew.
Read full story here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/meet-iowa-farmer-who-puts-pollinators-first