News From the Wild Side-July 2016

A note from WFA’s Assistant Director, Shelly Connor

I grew up in the Midwest and recently moved back to the area. I remember the fields surrounding my childhood home in the country filled with thousands of milkweed plants; watching the striped monarch butterfly caterpillars slowly inching up and down the plants looking for a place to transform; and finally seeing the emerging orange and black beauties encircling the fields on their way north. It was a regular summer occurrence. I looked forward to witnessing the magic every year.

 

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My kids growing up today will have a much different memory of the monarch.

By now, the monarch butterfly is well into the northern states and Canada on its epic travels. While the year started off with great news for the monarch - the overwintering population in Mexico had rebounded from the year before - a late winter storm devastated the path and habitat of this year’s population, leading to a serious reduction in the number of monarchs heading north.

In ideal and normal conditions, this kind of storm would still wreak havoc on the population but they would be able to weather the storm. However, because the monarch faces additional obstacles on its journey north today, like a significant lack of food source, disappearing habitat and widespread use of toxic neonicotinoids, this storm set forth an uphill battle for the Midwestern population.

In fact, numbers coming in from sightings along their route north confirm the population is low.

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To-date there are thousands of organizations and people working to protect this iconic species and its habitat. Amidst this bad news there is a silver lining, one that just might bring the monarch numbers back up again - the spotlight is on the monarch.

In 2013 the population was so low, many wondered if they could rebound at all. But before the storm hit this spring, the monarch numbers were good, great in fact. The work of the thousands of people and organizations showed it is possible to beat the odds.

So, while the numbers may not look good now, history shows that when we all work together with a focus, we can make a significant difference and change courses.

This is the story WFA lives and breathes every day. We are diligently working to change courses - bringing wild back into the vocabulary of agriculture; keeping nature at the heart of our food system; ensuring we have a healthy future for generations to come.

We’ve worked with farmers in California in putting in milkweed in their conservation plantings, and continue to work nationally on policies that protect wildlife habitat. Building a broad base of supporters working to protect biodiversity, including the monarch, is imperative. Biodiversity is the foundation for our survival.

Thank you for your support as we keep going and keep looking forward to the diverse future. 

For the wild, 

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Jo Ann Baumgartner            Shelly Connor
Executive Director               Assistant Director


WFA Welcomes New Board Members

WFA recently added three new board members to our team. These new board members will bring lots of expertise and perspective to our already amazing board. Read more about each board member below. Click here to learn more about our entire board of directors and advisors.

Peter_Martinelli_Board.jpgPeter Martinelli farms organic fruits and vegetables in fields surrounded by bay, oak and riparian woodlands with a steelhead and coho salmon stream running through. Years of experience has taught him how stewardship practices allow wildness to coexist and be celebrated along with the production of foods with exceptional taste. Peter sits on the Boards of the Marin County Farm Bureau and the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

 

 



Michael_Dimock_brd.jpgMichael Dimock
 is president of Roots of Change (a project of the Public Health Institute) and is a national food movement organizer and thought leader on food and farming systems needed for the 21st Century. He farmed organically for three years in Sonoma County, and in 1992 founded Ag Innovations Network, where he began his work on consensus building and strategic planning to create healthier food and agriculture.

 

 




Paul_Dolan_brd.jpgPaul Dolan spent 27 years at Fetzer Vineyards helping to put the company at the forefront of organic viticulture. He is currently a principle with Truett Hurst Wine Company and operates his family’s Dark Horse Ranch in Northern California with his son. Paul authored “True to Our Roots, Fermenting a Business Revolution.”

 



Our Timeline on Biodiversity and Organic Agriculturehistory.jpeg

For more than a decade, WFA has worked to ensure that biodiversity protection was a priority in organic agriculture. Biodiversity conservation rules have been sorely ignored since the National Organic Program’s (NOP) inception. But just this year, we encouraged the NOP to publish Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance that we initially wrote. This interpretation will have a positive impact on four million organic acres and hundreds of thousands species who depend on the land.

In support of the Guidance, we have just published one of many planned educational materials, How to Conserve Biodiversity on the Farm: Actions to Take on a Continuum from Simple to Complex. Coming soon is the long awaited WFA Biodiversity Conservation: A Guide for Organic Farmers and Certifiers that will be an amazing tool that describes best practices, regulations, and resources. This WFA Guide will be published this summer!

Learn more about our work.


Rt.1J.Baumgarnter.jpegHow Biodiversity is Critical to a Fully Functioning Farm 

Article written by Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance and was printed in Planet Drum June 2016 newsletter.

We support what is beautiful and what we love—songbirds singing out their names, fat bumblebees busy sampling an array of gorgeous native flowers, and the majestic oaks towering over us—these species can and do live on farms.

There’s a debate raging here and especially in Europe where eco-payments are made to farmers to protect rare species. It goes like this: Should we have agricultural sacrificial zones with separate protected wild places, or should we have wildlife-friendly farms. The sacrificial zones are where the crop is grown fencerow to fencerow and every other plant is killed with herbicides or fire, and livestock are confined to small areas and are not allowed to graze. From every perspective—beauty, functionality, and biodiversity—we must have both large protected areas and wildlife-friendly matrixes.

Read More


A New Conservation Tool Helps Farmers Look Into the FutureCover_crop_hedgerow_2.jpg

The Land Stewardship Project, based in Minnesota, just completed and launched a brand new conservation tool. This new tool helps farmers calculate the financial costs and benefits of conservation cropping, allowing specific crop and grazing scenarios to be compared over a six-year period.

The tool addresses a fundamental question for farmers when they consider changing up their practices, “What are the financial implications?” It gives farmers a unique look into the future comparing different scenarios.

Check out the tool here.


IMG_4935.jpegSupporting Wild Farm Alliance Has Never Been so Important

Did you know...

We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction. At the current rate of loss, we should expect for 30-50% of all species to face extinction by 2050. Monarchs, bees, and other pollinators are already showing declines where recovery efforts will need to be focused and big.

How you can help...

Your action is needed in order to address our biodiversity loss issue. Together, we will work to solve this problem in a unique way - turning what can be considered part of the problem into the solution.

Click here to make a donation today to Wild Farm Alliance.

Help us work with U.S farmers to build better soil health, protect clean water, ensure more complete pollination and effective pest control, and enhance habitat for wildlife. Your donation will change agriculture and its impact on biodiversity. 

Thank you for your support! 


Thanks to Wild Farm Alliance Business Sponsors

We are so grateful for our Business Sponsors who are partnering with us to rewild our farms. If you are a business owner or know of a business that is interested in joining our work, please contact us at shellyconnor@wildfarmalliance.org.  

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