Down2Earth Farms Transforms Unused Land into a Pollinator Haven

Monday, November 23, 2015
By: Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Project Manager
Feed a Bee Partner Blog Series - Down2Earth Farms

When you see an opportunity to make a dream you’ve had for years a reality, you take it. That’s the philosophy that brought Down 2 Earth (D2E) Farms to life in 2011, when Cecilia Redding purchased an old dairy farm and turned 33 acres into a functioning farm producing vegetables, fruit, shiitake mushrooms and hay.


As a Feed a Bee partner, D2E has dedicated three acres of land to forage and creating a pollinator haven. We caught up with Cecilia Redding to discuss how she became involved with Feed a Bee and what she’s noticed in her pollinator patches.


1. How did you first hear about the Feed a Bee initiative?


D2E is one of the farms that provides fresh produce for Feed a Bee partner The Produce Box, a produce delivery service that sources its products from local farms in North Carolina. The Produce Box passed along our contact information to the Bee Care Center as a potential partner, and the stars aligned! We were looking for a good blend of seed for pollinators when we were contacted about being a partner.


2. What encouraged you to get involved as a partner?


We are always looking for new ways to encourage pollinators to come into our fields. The majority of the 80 different varieties of vegetables and fruit we plant need to be pollinated. Not only that, the flowers make the farm look beautiful!


3. What was the process of planting your pollinator gardens like?


We have many areas in our fields that cannot be used for crops due to rocks, drainage issues, shading of trees, etc. We disked and tilled these areas so they were ready for throwing the seed out by hand or with a hand seeder. The seed did not require fertilizer or water, so it was easy!


4. How are your pollinator plots looking these days?


We thought June would be too late for the flowers to come out, but the pollinator seeds germinated in all the areas we seeded and they were gorgeous! This weekend we had our first frost, so they are looking a little sad but many flowers still exist.

Summer
Fall

5. Have you noticed more pollinators hanging around?


Yes! A bee keeper has eight hives on our land. We thought that would be enough, but last year we had various problems due to a lack of pollination in some of our crops. We didn’t see any of those same problems this year due to all the bees in the area.


6. Do you have plans to expand your forage area?


We would like to expand the forage areas and participate in the program again next year. We hope many of the existing areas can include perennials and expand the length of the growing season. We’d like to include spring next year.


7. Why is it important for growers like yourself to have forage areas on their land?


The first statement in the USDA definition of organic agriculture is using methods that preserve the environment. We are certified organic because preserving natural resources and biodiversity is critical to our core values. There are many types of pollinators and we hope they all call our farm home!


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