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Back to Class, Bees, and Fear

Posted 3/5/2015 1:51pm by Michael Scheidel.

Hey good folks!

In all of her wisdom, today my wife Emily has called our first snow day of the year for the kids.  Because we home-school and farm for a living, we can rarely justify a day off due to weather.  Currently, just moments from the joyous announcement and subsequent cheers, the house is buzzing with sounds of legos, laughter, and busy play. 

BACK TO CLASS

I attended an all-day farming workshop yesterday that included the following topics: Farm to Restaurant Sales, Growing Winter Greens, Storage Crops, High Tunnel Modifications and Tomato Varieties, Spotted Lantern Fly, Food Safety, and Pesticides and Pollinators.  They were all interesting but one really struck me as most important. 

About 20 years ago I got my first farm job while going to college and learned of the importance of bees as pollinators for our food and the entire food web.  It's complicated but their role in food production cannot be overstated.  So their recent decline and collapse should concern us all, at least those of us who care where our food is coming from and how it is grown.  Ryan Reynolds, research technician at Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research, gave a fascinating presentation yesterday on the prevalence of synthetic agricultural chemicals in the honey bee population and POSSIBLE connections between these chemicals and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  A crude synopsis of his presentation is this: over 100 synthetic chemicals were found in the bees studied; these included herbicides, fungicides and pesticides; these chemicals impact the gut bacteria of the bee; inert ingredients labeled on these fungicides (which are often listed simply as "other ingredients") which carry the primary chemical have an impact on the bees; chemicals that have been banned since the 1970's are still found in the bees.  The cocktail of chemicals that bees are exposed to is amazing!  I'm sure that a toxicology profile on me would also turn up quite a few things that I didn't invite in!  So the only thing that will change for our farm operation in considering the bees is our ongoing effort to intentionally plant more forage for pollinators and continue farming without the toxins that are so common in our food system. 

FEAR

For those brave few who are still reading let me encourage you a bit as you have encouraged me in the past.  Some folks believe that the entire ecological/organic farm movement is "nothing but fear tactics" to draw food dollars away from the industrial/conventional food system.  Let me assure you that "we" are not fear tactics but a natural response to a food system that has moved so far from sane policy and practices.  Be assured also that we are part of a vibrant community who are energized to continue to produce safe, honest, and common sense food that CAN feed the our local foodshed community. 

Gratefully Growing!

The Scheidels

Little Peace Farm