November 2022 -
Why So Many Winemakers Are Embracing Agroforestry
By Betsy Andrews
Winegrowers are using trees, hedgerows, and habitats to mitigate climate change, helping not just the environment, but also the health of their vines.
On a recent morning, winemaker and owner Julie Johnson shows off the scruffy edges of her vineyard and the hedgerows lining the driveway at Napa’s Tres Sabores. “I have 15 varieties of pomegranate,” she says. “They bring hummingbirds, and hummingbirds eat insects. Some kind of sage is always blooming and bringing in beneficial predators. California buckwheat is great for pollen. The dill looks messy, but it’s a feast for beneficial wasps.”
Everywhere surrounding Johnson’s organic grapes, other flora and fauna thrive. “It’s wild and raucous and untamed, but there’s great potential,” says Johnson. “I have 52-year-old, dry-farmed vines. The ecosystem helps them. I’ve always loved growing things that complement the vineyard. And, as it turns out, it’s imperative that we weave this web of hedgerows and trees and native plantings into our monoculture.”
In the continental U.S., about 60 percent of land is in crops and ranching, says Jo Ann Baumgartner, the executive director of the Wild Farm Alliance (WFA), “so we have to bring nature back to the farm if we want nature to survive.”
WFA is Hiring!
We are thrilled to be adding a new position to our team: Farmland Wildways Program Director. Help us get the word out about this new position as we expand our staff and grow our programming to reconnect food systems with ecosystems.
Summary: The two-year focus of this position will be centered on educating and inspiring California farmers to install native habitat in order to attract and support natural enemies (mostly arthropods) for pest control. Specifically, the Program Director is responsible for leading program implementation, organizing outreach events (farm field days), writing and publishing programmatic resources, working with contractors and others to produce videos, conducting literature research, networking to build alliances and providing general communications (print, email, social media).
Location: This position will ideally be based in California, working remotely from a home office with travel to farms throughout California for field days and other events.
Study Confirms Hedgerows on Crop Field Edges Increase Soil Carbon to a Depth of 1 Meter
In a recent study conducted in Yolo County, CA, soil carbon was compared between long-term (10+ years) woody hedgerow plantings and adjacent crop fields. At all depths and in all soil types, carbon was greater in the soil below hedgerows. The study concludes that installing hedgerows on 50 to 80% of field edges would help California reach 7 to 12% of its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Climate Change Drives Insect Apocalypse: Act Now to Make Insects More Resilient
In a new scientific review, a team of 70 scientists warn that climate change affects insects in ways that will “drastically reduce our ability to build a sustainable future based on healthy, functional ecosystems” if no action is taken.
The good news is that WFA and others are already taking the action we need to protect insects from extinction. A big part of the solution is increasing the abundance of native plant species. Not only do these plants provide food and habitat for insects, they can provide cover for extreme weather. Insects will be more resilient to climate change when ecosystems have high levels of plant species diversity. Hedgerows, woodlots, sown vegetation, and flower strips represent microclimatic refuges for insects in the face of extreme climatic events.
2023 Farm Bill
Farm and food policy must support strong family farms, vibrant communities, good food for everyone, and well-managed natural resources. We have a major opportunity to shape a better food and farm future as Congress gets to work writing the 2023 Farm Bill.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), of which WFA is a member, has just published their 2023 Farm Bill Platform. This platform covers all of the Coalition's priority areas, from local food to conservation to research, organics, crop insurance, and much more!
It’s full of important information that farmers and advocates will need to know if they want to advance a sustainable agenda in the 2023 Farm Bill. It's time to get educated, organized, and fight for a 2023 Farm Bill that represents the interests of family farmers and the sustainable ag community!
New WFA Hats
Join us in pursuing our nature-driven 2050 Vision – a pathway to a future where food systems are reconnected to ecosystems through Farmland Flyways, Wildways and Waterways. Investing in WFA means inspiring more farmers, ranchers and others to act now and help them shift their role of food producers to also becoming ecologically minded stewards.
The first 100 supporters to Donate $75 or more between now and the end of the year will receive a Wild Farm Alliance organic cotton embroidered hat.
California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Annual Conference
WFA Executive Director, Jo Ann Baumgartner, will be speaking at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Annual Conference on Friday afternoon, December 2nd. She will be discussing how conservation planners and agricultural professionals can help farmers use native plants to support beneficial birds. We hope to see you at the conference at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, California.