Digging into life's garden with Olivia:
Integrated Pest Management is an approach to controlling pests that is environmentally sensitive, yet effective. There is not one particular method for IPM, rather it is using current common-sense approaches that evaluate the natural life cycle and behavior of certain pests and then applying the most ecological, economical and least-hazardous solution.
The idea behind IPM is to find alternative methods other than traditional/routine application of harmful pesticides. Although some IPM methods may result in limited and controlled use of pesticides, those methods are not common or harsh as regularly spraying pesticides on crops. IPM methods turn to non-chemical practices and find
natural solutions that are equally as effective.
Integrated Pest Management takes more intentionality. IPM requires correct identification of the pest, continual monitoring, troubleshooting prevention methods to reduce the attractiveness to pests, evaluating when to take control actions, and documenting the results. IPM requires knowledge of specific pests so that pest control solutions can be tailored to the one specific pest problem without affecting other species that provide benefits to the garden.
IPM can also be used in more places than just the garden. According to the EPA, IPM is highly recommended in schools because it is a “smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control.” There are numerous benefits to IPM such as health (human and environmental) and economic. IPM reduces allergens associated with pests, pesticides and asthma. Using IPM practices in schools where allergens and asthma are particularly high can be very beneficial. Economically, since IPM is focused on prevention it can be very cost-effective in the long term.
With IPM, you are finding the root of the pest problem which can help you have longer lasting prevention reducing the need to spend money continually on pesticides and other control efforts.
Although IPM may take extra attention in the process, it results in longer lasting pest control rather than covering up the pest problem with pesticides which may or may not have long term results.
This weekend, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture hosted a CRAFT Workshop at Waxwing’s FIG Farm that was dedicated to talking about IPM. Two Agricultural Extension agents came out to the farm to talk about IPM and help the participants get hands-on experience with some of the local pests that were present at this particular farm. One big thing the agents talked about was the knowledge that comes with IPM. It is very important to take the time to learn about the signs of disease and pests, what they look like, and how to resolve the issue. They reiterated that it takes a good bit of time and research but can be very cost-efficient and long lasting.
Digging into life's garden with Katie:
Native plants are those who have adapted to a set climate over a number of years, forming a number of symbiotic relationships with their surrounding environment. These plants tend to have little trouble growing, since they are already suited to the environmental conditions around them. Insects and wildlife depend on native plants to maintain stable living conditions. These native plants stand in contrast to non-native invasive species, some of which propagate enormously due to the non-balanced traits they bring to the new environment.
Not only are native plants easy to grow in their native environments, but they’re an enormous part of indigenous culture around the world. As food systems become more commercialized, the connections formed between cultural groups and their land can easily be understood as less authentic and important, as one Lakota man laments in this article (http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/20/native-american-seeds).
Place-based knowledge has been shown to be of more importance in many American Indian groups in contrast to modern US culture, and plant-based life is a huge part of how people connect with the land. So, not only can the modern seed industry undermine cultural knowledge within America, but native sovereignty can be affected due to American Indians’ inability to grow essential food without relying on outside parties for help.
Native plant preservation and heirloom seeds can overlap in discussion, although they don’t refer to the exact same process. Heirloom varieties refer to plants grown from saved seeds of older plants--the children and parent plant are essentially the same crop due to open pollination. Heirloom varieties stand in contrast to hybridized commercial varieties of plants designed to have a high yield as well as to be resistant to disease and pesticides. Native plants are merely those that are and have been staples within the geologic time environment they find themselves.
Digging into life's garden with Christina:
At the heart of every sustainable food system, lie the seeds that grow the myriad of produce that people consume daily. These seeds are so much more than meets the eye, beyond their ability to grow food, they tell stories of culture, subsistence, and even resistance. Without the maintenance and cultivation of open pollinated, heirloom seeds, communities around the world will lose the biodiversity of the flowers, vegetables, and fruits they have cherished for generations. This reduction of biodiversity can and will greatly affect communities’ cultural foodways.
Some of the bean varieties donated to the Ashe and Watauga Seed Libraries from community members in Western North Carolina.
In today’s growing global economic system, corporations worldwide have been mass producing seeds to be disease resistant, yield more, have specific coloring / growth patterns, etc. According to the Ashe County Seed Saving Workshop I attended on May 18th, 2017, Agricultural Extension Agent Travis Birdsell, explained that there are
“roughly ten seed companies that account for 67% percent of the global proprietary seed market.” These commercial seeds will decrease the selection of crops we have available to grow and it will also consequently increase the risk of getting wiped out by future disease / insect infestation, and climatic changes. Commercial seeds often are unable to change with their environment decreasing their viability for the following season causing growers to have to buy new seeds each year. With this reduction of genetic diversity, comes the risk of widespread food insecurity.
Organic and open pollinated seeds have the ability to better adapt to local conditions, and can be improved over generations. These seeds will be able to be saved year after year, through proper cultivation and storage. This seed saving process also gives people the opportunity to connect with the community of farmers, gardeners, seed savers, growers, etc. that play a role in their local food system. It is so important to create these networks, in order to create a base of individuals that work to fight food insecurity in their community.
The time is now to fight these corporations, in order to take back our local food system. With the work that Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is doing to promote the seed libraries, through events such as the Ashe and Watauga County Seed Saving Workshops, the High Country community will have an opportunity to take part in the global movement to save the genetic diversity of plants. Seed saving can not only, help build strong communities in a number of way but also it can help to protect the natural environment.
By saving local heirloom varietals, pollinators such as plants and animals, will have a chance to thrive in their natural environment while also helping to play a part in maintaining local biodiversity. According to Birdsell, “seed saving provides an opportunity to engage in the cycle of life, which then turns the consumer into the provider.” Through seed saving we can work to ensure that future generations will have access to viable produce that will provide nutrition to their friends and family. There are a number of resources available to teach individuals how to properly save seeds. Through education and discussion, we can create a global movement to protect our local food system and prevent food insecurity worldwide.
Digging into life's garden with Madison:
Food deserts are defined by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) as geographic areas in which residents have limited to no access to fresh fruit, vegetables, or other healthy foods. These areas are typically impoverished and lack farmer’s markets and grocery stores with fresh, affordable produce. About 23.5 million people in the US live in food deserts. (3) The largest three are located in New Orleans, Chicago, and Atlanta.(2)
Food deserts are primarily found in low income areas in which the majority of people do not own cars. This means people rely on public transportation to get to supermarkets which can require several long trips. A NY Times study shows that wealthy districts can have up to three times more supermarkets as poorer ones. The NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) found that small corner stores and larger grocery stores are statistically grouped together, meaning if a community had two corner stores and no large chain grocery store they would still be counted as having two retail food outlets despite its limited stock. (1)
There are growing health concerns for people who live in food deserts due to their dependence on the low prices of local stop and shop markets. These markets and small convenience stores offer primarily processed foods such as snacks, chips, cake, and sodas. Fresh fruits are usually sold individually with no price marked allowing store owners to change the cost based upon the customer. Buying food from these small stores also makes it difficult for many to find culturally appropriate foods that work around many dietary restrictions or allergies. For quick, easy meals these areas are filled with fast food chains, around a 2.5x higher exposure than those living in wealthy areas, only providing meals with processed meats high in fat, sugar, and salt. Between 1985 and 2005, the price of fruits and vegetables increased by 75% while the price of fatty foods dropped by over 26%. (1) Although eating cheaper food saves low income families money now, in the long term the lack of nutritious food leads to expensive health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
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