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Supporting Farming’s Wild Side

Supporting Farming’s Wild Side

Those of us who care about the natural environment often worry about farming’s impact to native plants and animals, and wonder if farming can actually do something to promote our wildlife.

The good news is that the answer is yes. In a movement that takes organic farming and sustainable agriculture to the next level, a group of ecological and sustainable farming advocates and wild lands proponents formed the Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) in 2000.

Based in Watsonville, California, the Wild Farm Alliance is a national organization whose members include farmers, agricultural professionals, and environmental conservationists. As stated on its web site, the Wild Farm Alliance’s mission is ”to promote a healthy, viable agriculture that helps protect and restore wild nature.”

Twelve steering committee members, and twelve advisory committee members determine its policies and priorities. Some well known sustainable food advocates sit on their advisory board including Alice Waters, Wendell Berry, Fred Kirschenmann, and Frances Moore Lappe.

The Alliance encourages farmers to focus on the landscape keeping in mind the needs of native plants and animals, and to look at ways to increase biodiversity on the farm, with the goal of reconnecting our food systems and ecosystems. It basically involves everything from taking advantage of nature’s services like pollination and rodent control, to restoring sensitive habitats with native vegetarian that was previously there.

How it goes beyond organic and sustainable farming is that instead of just focusing on their own borders, wild farmers look beyond their borders at the connectivity that happens within their watershed where wildlife movement is coming through.

The Alliance encourages farmers to farm within the natural landscape, which can often result in solving problems they have had with areas that flood or areas on the farm that are considered marginal.

Many sustainable agriculture and conservation groups including California Certified Organic Farmers, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Community Farm Alliance, Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Audubon California and the Sierra Club also endorse the Alliance’s platform.

A great resource to learn more about wild farming is the book Farming with the Wild, written by Dan Imhoff, a Wild Farm Alliance steering committee member. The book looks at what different farms are doing across the country and is one of those featured in the books section at the Alliance’s site.

Read more: Community, Conscious Consumer, Environment, Food, Life, Make a Difference, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, , ,

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

45 comments

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8:01PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Thanks.

7:50AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Thank you

12:24AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Thank you.

9:01AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

thanks for the article

9:01AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

thanks for the article

9:01AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

thanks for the article

6:57PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Thank you for this important article. Yes, if all farmers converted to organic, natural life cycle, biodynamic, and fully sustainable farming then the life on this planet can be saved. It is critical what each person consumes, because that by itself can already make a huge contribution to saving life and balance. If we all became raw food vegans we can protect the animas, the forests, the ozone layer, oxygen, and we can feed all beings, nobody would go hungry or thirsty. Extreme amounts of water are wasted because of meat production. This alone should make us reform. Highly important is to bring top soil back to the farmland. We can do this by composting and adding all decomposed earth soil back to our gardens. Compost all decomposable things like old vegetables, fruits, doesn't matter if it is moldy, tea bags, coffee, wood particles, gardening mulch, any greenery material, and if you want to do 100 percent composting which will really bring top soil back you also put dead rats, mice or other corpses into the compost areas, it will take care of itself, green burials bury people 3 feet under ground without chemicals, and most important: Build and use self decomposable toilets and bring dung, animal or human dung, back to the Earth's surface by letting all decompose and make fertile soil with it. This is cutting edge and many people are opposed to it, but it's not much more work and it is clean. Questions: nicolagrobe@yahoo.com. Will answer all serious and well meaning question

11:59AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Noted with interest.

9:13AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

This is what I'm going to school for and has thought about it for many years. Question is, is there something like this in Canada?

8:40AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Thanks. My gardens are native plants and heirloom veggies....and part of the yard is just wildflowers and some wonderful "weeds".

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