Hunt Country Vineyards
June 3, 2024 | Sustainable Practices | Hunt Country Vineyards

We're planting 5 acres of pollinator habitat!

Image of tractor in field under wide blue sky.

The old adage is true: the only constant is change. And after about 50 years of caring for and selling hardy native Concord juice grapes, the markets have shifted, and it just doesn’t make economic sense for us as a small grower to keep growing them. So several years ago we tore out five acres of Concords in a part of the farm that's surrounded on three sides by woods. We could have put in other crops, but we decided to turn this field into an oasis for pollinators.

Visitors may have noticed that we already have a field that we leave "wild" adjacent to the tasting room parking lot and downhill from our small fruit orchard. However, this new field has been specifically planned with pollinators in mind. The flower and grass varieties have been carefully chosen as native species, and the location gives pollinators easy access to the forest -- where many of them like to nest.

We took on this habitat creation project with the support of a small USDA-NRCS EQIP grant to help pay for materials and labor. We just completed the seeding of the field last month. This is the first step in a three year process. Over the next couple of years we will continue to mow the field in stages to ensure that the seeds of the native flowers and grasses are thoroughly distributed and established.

Image of tiny bee on thumb.

This habitat will be beneficial not only to bees and butterflies (the better-known pollinators) but also to moths, certain types of of wasps, and hoverflies (the lesser-known pollinators). It will also be a boon to song birds and other wildlife as a food source and for nesting.

Will more pollinators benefit our vineyards? No, not directly. It's possible that having more beneficial insects around will keep harmful insects in check by "taking up space" and making less room for those harmful insects to get established. But it does contribute to our goal of managing our farm as a complete ecosystem.

It will be a few years before the field fully blooms with all its colorful and native beautiful. However, we're thrilled to have started the process. And we're looking forward to sharing this beautiful habitat with you when it's ready!

Image of another tractor in the field.


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