Since November is Native American Heritage month, this fall we are focusing our seminar series on Native food systems, often called Native foodways.
Instead of our usual monthly seminar we are promoting Gather, a film about Native American foodways and food sovereignty.
Some of my best farming habits have been taught to me by wiser farmers using methods handed down to them through the generations. These are the techniques that grow healthier crops, help to control pests naturally, or enhance plant production. After all, no one takes the time to pass down the techniques that don't work. I've yet to have a grower tell me their grandmother's secret method to grow really small and bad tasting tomatoes. Or give me a recipe to spread powdery mildew around my garden.
Learning from and respecting other peoples' traditional ways of growing is an important part of sustainable and regenerative agriculture. All cultures have developed different ways to feed themselves and we can all learn from listening to each other.
Did you miss the showing of Gather we promoted earlier this fall? You can view it for free on Kanopy, available through most libraries:
In Latah library we are able to watch 4 films a month for free. Other library systems may have different limits.
Rural Roots: Over 20 years of working with and supporting small farmers who use sustainable practices.
As a farmer you help control and shape your landscape everyday in many different ways. We want to help you learn to do so in a way that will make the land better for you, your children, and the generations to come.
New research by Ellis et al. (2021) shows that humans have been shaping over 3/4th of the earth's landscape for the past 12,000 years. It is not our use of the earth that is causing our current ecological problems, but our current unsustainable practices.
Our ancestors transformed ecosystems in sustainable ways. By listening to and adapting agricultural practices used by Indigenous, traditional, and local people; we can often halt and reverse the damage done to our environment. If we look to the past, while considering the latest agricultural and environmental science, we can create a lasting legacy within our lifetime.
"Our global maps show that even 12,000 years ago, nearly three-quarters of terrestrial nature was inhabited, used, and shaped by people," says Ellis. "Areas untouched by people were almost as rare 12,000 years ago as they are today."
The study maps showing land use are available to view interactively online:
It is our responsibility to treat the land with respect. Acting as a good steward of the land results in larger healthier harvests as well as a better relationship with nature.
Erle C. Ellis, Nicolas Gauthier, Kees Klein Goldewijk, Rebecca Bliege Bird, Nicole Boivin, Sandra Díaz, Dorian Q. Fuller, Jacquelyn L. Gill, Jed O. Kaplan, Naomi Kingston, Harvey Locke, Crystal N. H. McMichael, Darren Ranco, Torben C. Rick, M. Rebecca Shaw, Lucas Stephens, Jens-Christian Svenning, James E. M. Watson. People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (17): e2023483118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2023483118
Become a Rural Roots member! We know the pandemic has hit a lot of growers and ranchers hard so we have halved our membership prices.
Small Farmers, ranchers and businesses can join for only $45 a year ($60 for larger farms, ranches and businesses; $120 for large businesses or corporations).
Students and those on a budget that want to support small growers, can sign up for our Living Lightly or Student membership at only $18 a year.
Just want to help? Sign up for our Friends of Farmers membership at $30 a year.
The monthly Speaker Series is a collaboration between Rural Roots and University of Idaho Extension
Fun Facts: Keeping up with New Research Helps You Farm Smarter - Not Harder
Farm diversity can enhance populations of beneficial insects (natural enemies) and pollinators
Small farms and diverse cropping can enhance natural enemy populations. According to Haan et al. 2019, natural enemy populations are are greater when agricultural landscapes are made up of smaller farm fields. The researchers looked at how landscape structure influenced numbers of beneficial insects.
Beneficial insects, which include predatory and parasitic arthropods, are essential for control of herbivorous insect populations. The value of beneficial insects has been estimated at billions of dollars annually (Losey et al. 2006). Crop monocultures are often detrimental to the longer lived natural enemies while encouraging population growth of fast reproducing insect pests.
This makes sense since many arthropods need resources found in field edges and permacultures. Resources includes food, overwintering spaces, nest sites, and a refuge or safe space from agricultural disturbance. Natural enemies can survive in these protected spaces and then move into crop fields to exploit the herbivore insect pests.
Aspects of the landscape that may influence insect populations include edge density (grain size), shape complexity and connectivity. It is become obvious that landscape configuration is an important predictor of degree of pest suppression.
Increasing crop diversity helped promote important insect predators and pollinators. Landscapes that had both high crop diversity and semi-natural habitat cover, had an increased diversity of ground beetle species and pollinators (Aguilera et al. 2020). Semi‐natural habitats normally are pastures, small forest patches and ponds/other waterways.
One very important addition to landscape is flowers. Many predatory insects live much longer when they have access to nectar and pollen (HE et al. 2021). Researchers reported that when looking at all predatory insects, females with access to flowers survive 2.2 times longer, while males live 1.7 times longer, when compared to insects that only have access to water, but no flowers.
How can you use this emerging research in your operation or farm?
- Plant flowering hedgerows and permaculture.
- Use spaces that are traditionally hard to farm, such as slopes or edges, to develop semi-natural patches of pasture, orchard or hedges for beneficial insect habitat.
- Add pollinator plots and rows between or within your crops using perennial flowers. This benefits both pollinators and predator insects.
- Break up monocultures by growing a variety of crops. Crop diversity helps beneficial insects.
- Consider adding or increasing perennial crops that will provide a year round habitat for beneficial insects.
- Develop an integrated pest program that enhances natural enemy survival.
Guillermo Aguilera, Tomas Roslin, Kirsten Miller, Giovanni Tamburini, Klaus Birkhofer, Berta Caballero‐Lopez, Sandra Ann‐Marie Lindström, Erik Öckinger, Maj Rundlöf, Adrien Rusch, Henrik G. Smith, Riccardo Bommarco. Crop diversity benefits carabid and pollinator communities in landscapes with semi‐natural habitats. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13712
Nathan L. Haan, Yajun Zhang, Douglas A. Landis. Predicting Landscape Configuration Effects on Agricultural Pest Suppression. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2019.10.003
John E. Losey, Mace Vaughan, The Economic Value of Ecological Services Provided by Insects, BioScience, Volume 56, Issue 4, April 2006, Pages 311–323, https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2006)56[311:TEVOES]2.0.CO;2
Xueqing He, Lars Pødenphant Kiær, Per Moestrup Jensen, Lene Sigsgaard. The effect of floral resources on predator longevity and fecundity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Biological Control, 2021; 153: 104476 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2020.104476
Events & ClassesSee what we're up to.
Check out some of the fun virtual seminars below!
Click here to see Susan's new booklet on her pollinator research: Increase crop yields by managing pollinator and beneficial insect habitat in the Pacific Northwest: Pollinator handout 2021
This booklet shows some great plant choices for our area! Learn which plants attract the most pollinators. See which plants will bring the most bumblebees or other native bees to your farm.
For now you may want to check out theses pages.
Learn more about attracting pollinators in our How to Attract Pollinator page!
Check out this UDSA website on How Farmers Can Help Pollinators.
Another great resource: Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) is a certification program from Pollinator Partnership!