"Medicine for People and Planet" has been the Hillside Botanicals mantra since the beginning. This guiding tenet has also informed many of the practices and ethics we engage with on the farm, including protecting and promoting the vitality of our local pollinators. It's no secret that changes in the climate, conventional pesticides, and habitat loss are all driving noticeable losses of our native pollinators, from honey bees to bats and everyone in between.
The problem: Pollinators are critical to the balance of ecosystems, our food system, and human health. For some perspective, pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we consume, and research suggests they add 217 billion dollars to the global economy. Regardless of statistics, without pollinators we humans are in trouble.
The Good News: We can, and should, take action to promote and preserve our pollinator friends.
Here's 3 Ways We Support Our Pollinators:
1. We're Certified Organic
As organic producers we do not use any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, which have been shown to be harmful to pollinators who come in contact with them.
The absence of these chemicals on our farm means there's no harmful runoff that contaminates our on-farm water sources.
2. We Practice Regenerative Land Stewardship
Beyond our organic practices, we engage in a regenerative model of farming and land stewardship to co-create a truly holistic landscape. Some ways we accomplish this include:
Planting a diversity of perennial and annual crops that are known pollinator food sources, such as tulsi, calendula, and various tree crops. No monocropping on this hillside!
We maintain native pollinator pathways throughout our fields rich with plants like goldenrod, aster, and clovers, to ensure there is a buffet of pollinator forage throughout the growing season.
We monitor the pollinator populations season to season so we can determine who might need support through more food sources or intentional plantings. The good news - we've seen more and more monarchs each year!
3. We're Now Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) Certified
We're proud to be the first hemp and medicinal herb farm in the State of Vermont that is certified BFF through the Pollinator Partnership. To qualify for this science driven certification, producers must meet the following requirements:
Offer forage providing good nutrition for bees on at least 3%* of land. Forage can be temporary, including cover crops.
Provide bloom of different flowering plants throughout the growing season, especially in early spring and late autumn.
Offer clean water for bees if not inhibited by government mandated water restrictions.
Provide permanent habitat for nesting through features such as hedgerows, natural brush, buffer strips, or bare ground.
Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM); reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals.
Complete the compliance form once every 3 years (audited by the BFF Task Force).
The Best Part: YOU can help pollinators too! Learn more about how to support these creatures with the Pollinator Partnership. We're in this together!