(By Christina Stucker-Gassi, Healthy Food and Farms Program Coordinator)
For over a decade, NCAP has increased the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on farms across southern Idaho. In the mid 2000s this work involved researching biological controls for early blight in potatoes. Since 2013, we have been working with a wide range of community partners to raise awareness around rebalancing predator/prey populations and boosting natural pollination services. We collaborate to conserve and restore critical on-farm habitat for bees and other beneficial insects.
Last summer, NCAP and Xerces Society partnered with Global Gardens to install a beetle bank and hedgerow to attract predatory beetles, native bees, monarch butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Global Gardens is an urban farm incubator located in Boise, Idaho that envisions a community of culturally diverse individuals empowered to cultivate food, engage with the community and become entrepreneurs. They have been offering farming entrepreneur classes and land to refugees since 2008.
Global Gardens was the host of this year's field day, Bees, Beetles, Butterflies, Oh My! On July 19, 2019 a group of 55 farmers, gardeners, certified pesticide applicators, educators, nonprofit leaders, and government employees gathered to celebrate invaluable invertebrates and learn more about how to protect them. The agenda for this exciting event covered a variety of topics including an introduction to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Conservation Biological Control (CBC), how to assess existing habitat on your land, planning and executing habitat enhancement projects, basic field observation and identification techniques for beneficial insects and pests, and resource sharing. A list of resources distributed can be found on our website here.
Leading up to this year's field day, we did something new for an Idaho event. We offered training credit for Idaho state certified pesticide applicators interested in increasing their knowledge of pesticide alternatives. We wanted to specifically reach out to this audience because of the growing demand for less toxic and safer alternatives to many of the pesticides commonly used by pest control companies today. It is also important that pesticides applicators understand the risks their activities can pose to bees and other invaluable invertebrates, and how to minimize them.
Bees, Beetles, Butterflies, Oh My, a field day, was organized by NCAP with facilitation support from Xerces Society, Idaho Botanical Garden, and Idaho State Department of Agriculture. The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Ada Soil and Water Conservation District helped fund this event. A special thank you to our host Global Gardens.
NCAP is committed to raising awareness around how pesticides negatively impact functioning ecosystems and sharing this information through our ongoing efforts to bring high value education opportunities to the communities we serve across the Northwest. If you are interested in learning more about how NCAP can support efforts in your community to reduce the use of pesticides, please reach out to us at [email protected].