On Monday, July 16th, we hosted a Biodiversity Workshop and Potluck. We had a great turnout, met some great folks, ate some great food, and learned lots about biodiversity!
Reg Newell, from the Department of Natural Resources walked the whole farm property with us, sharing insights on the different habitats and species around us. Reg’s job is an amazing Nova Scotian resource for any farmer, forester, or land owner in general. He spends a lot of time walking the property, taking pictures and jotting down notes. He then goes back to his office and creates a personalized Biodiversity Plan Booklet for the landowner. The booklet is usually from 10-15 pages long and includes pictures of your farm. And all this is completely free to the landowner!
Reg approved of our grassy strips between plots and, in the case of one of our fields, our grassy permanent pathways. He said that these are great beetle habitats.
He also told us that the sheet metal we have lying around the outside perimeter of the deer fence (for added deer annoyance) is doing double duty as a great habitat for snakes. When we told him of the different sizes and colours of snakes we’ve been seeing, he was impressed by the diversity.
Some of the things we’d like to add as a result of the workshop are: bat houses, barred owl houses, and a shelf on our barn that swallows will nest on.
After the delicious potluck lunch, Roxanne Beavers, ACORN’s Organic Transition Specialist, gave a talk about Biodiversity in Organic Agriculture. These were some of the things she mentioned that organic farmers do that increase biodiversity: crop rotation and intercropping, using organic fertilizers like compost, not using synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, planting green manures/cover crops, and planting buffers and hedgrows between their fields and conventional farms.
And some of her other tips that farmers can do to increase biodiversity: plant nectaries, raise a variety of different cultivars of crops and breeds of livestock including heirlooms, feed soil microbes with organic matter by mulching, preserve or enhance wild spaces on your farm, and remove invasive species.
On the subject of invasive species, we found out our farm has been invaded by the glossy buckthorn. I’m not sure if there’s much we can do about it, but it’s good to know what it is.
And then, for the grand finale, we created a Mini-Beast Mansion! Everyone collected materials from around the farm: wooden pallets, hay, field rocks, dead twigs and small logs, old knatty (but real wool) row cover, some glass jars that we were going to recycle, rolled up carboard….
It ended up looking very interesting…..very unique…..one of a kind.
Here is a checklist for farmers to enhance biodiversity that I found on-line in this SARE book. I like checklists.
Also, here is a link to a great booklet put out by the Wild Alliance called Biodiversity for Organic Farmers: Biodiversity Guide Organic Farmers I’ve found this guide to be super interesting and helpful.