Fifteen years ago I helped found the Wild Farm Alliance with other sustainable agriculture and wildlands advocates alarmed that agriculture was recklessly disrupting natural ecosystems and destroying native species of plants and animals.
We knew that the sacrifice of complex, sustainable natural systems for sterile fields of high producing crops was not the best way to produce food for humans. We devised a positive mission for the new Wild Farm Alliance: to promote a healthy, viable agriculture that helps to protect and restore wild nature.
I’ve supported this mission with financial contributions ever since.
The need for WFA’s vision of farming is more obvious these days because of widespread knowledge about disappearing monarch butterflies and the decline of native bee pollinators and domestic honeybees, primarily caused by agricultural chemicals and industrial farming practices.
Fortunately, government agencies and nonprofits are involving the public in pollinator habitat restoration all over the U.S., planting nectar producing wildflowers that bees and adult monarchs feed on and milkweed that monarchs need to reproduce. However, in the long run, this won’t succeed unless the millions of acres of sterile croplands are replaced by farms that accommodate natural ecological processes and sustain native plant and animal species.
The co-founders of WFA also loved eating meals together, and they wanted agricultural lands to produce healthful, safe food. WFA has maintained that productive farms can co-manage for conservation and food safety -- minimizing the risks of foodborne illness while conserving and building resilient ecosystems.
A recently released National Academy of Science study, “Co-managing fresh produce for nature conservation and food safety,” confirms this position. It revealed that the elimination of natural vegetation surrounding farm fields failed to reduce the presence of foodborne illness-causing pathogens in fresh produce grown in those fields. It also indicated that cleared land actually resulted in increased pathogen prevalence over time. The study confirms WFA’s long held position that biodiverse farming systems are the foundation of safe food production.
WFA’s goal for farming to be harmony with the natural world is as important today as it was 15 years ago. Even though I’m no longer on WFA’s board of directors and only serve in an advisory capacity, I’m always going to give financially to Wild Farm Alliance to support its important mission.
Photo Credit: John Morley