I had the pleasure this week of visiting Purple Sage Farms, a certified organic herb and leafy green producer, located in Middleton Idaho (just outside of Boise).
The field day was sponsored by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation. Attendees learned about ways Time & Mike Sommer are attracting pollinators and creating beneficial insect habitat on their 50 acre farm. The farm utilizes greenhouses and low tunnels and raise sheep and cattle from which they make their own compost. A sample of the innovative techniques the farm utilizes to attract pollinators and beneficial insects includes:
- Perennial row plantings in the field to provide refuge for natural enemies when annual plantings are disturbed.
- Beetle banks (bunch-type grass strips) planted in field to provide habitat for predacious ground beetles and bumblebee colonies.
- Plantings of annual flowers in the field to provide season-long pollen and nectar sources.
- Hedgerow and other permanent plantings along field borders.
- Growth of diverse cover crops (grasses, legumes, and others) to help with rotation of family members and provide additional nutrients to the soil.
- Plantings of nectar and pollen-rich plants on the periphery of the high tunnels to supply beneficial insects refuge when annual plantings are destroyed and replaced with a new crop.
- Mowing plants in bloom before any certified organic insecticides are sprayed to remove the nectar and pollen sources from the area needing treatment.
- Diverse weed control techniques including soil solarization, sheet mulching, hand-weeding, and mowing.
It was really a treat to visit such an innovative and beautiful farm. For more information on Purple Sage Farms, check out their website purplesagefarms.com.