Turning Farms into Wildlife Habitat

Pink-headed Warbler

Pink-headed Warbler, Fuentes Georginas, Guatemala

I recently had the opportunity to tour several coffee fincas (farms) in Guatemala and I was very impressed that these farmers are passionate about creating habitat for birds and other wildlife on their farms. I’m also encouraged that these farmers are pursuing certification for their fincas as wildlife preserves.

In order for a finca to be certified as a wildlife preserve, each farmer must set aside a certain percentage of their land to maintain in primary forest. Coffee and other crops must be grown organically with no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. And the farmers must manage their land in ways that creates welcoming habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Can you just imagine if farming were done this way in the US?

Green-throated Mountain Gem

Green-throated Mountain Gem at Finca Las Nubes

Instead of acre after acre of monoculture, pesticide drenched, GMO corn, we would have healthy working ecosystems that contributed to wildlife habitats and did no harm to surrounding waterways and local natural areas, but instead were part of a solution working toward protecting the environment.

I’m pretty sure that if this model is working in Guatemala, it can certainly work here in the US as well!

Yellow-throated Euphonia

Yellow-throated Euphonia at Finca Los Torrales, Guatemala

Sure, it requires some creative thinking. Sure it would mean that factory farms are no longer poisoning our food and polluting the environment. And yes this new paradigm may initially cost some money.

But just imagine a farm that didn’t have to worry about colony collapse disorder among honey bees because they had created welcoming habitat for the many different species of native bees.

Imagine a farm which supported grassland birds whose numbers are in steep decline!

Imagine a farm whose Roundup Ready GMO corn wasn’t killing off huge numbers of Monarch butterflies!

I know many small farmers here in the US who are passionate about growing food in a way that does no harm to the environment. They welcome birds and butterflies, and especially native bees to the ecosystem of their farm, and have become stewards of their land.

But they are competing with the giant agribusiness factory farms who think nothing of spraying poisonous chemicals all over the food that you will eat. The farms that have nothing but GMO monoculture crops drenched in pesticides. The farms who place corporate profits above our very health.

We have a choice when we purchase our groceries. We can support the small local farms who are doing the right thing and growing healthy food. We can shop at local farmers markets and join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in our area.

I’ve been teaching homeowners for years how to create Ecosystem Gardens–sustainable gardens that conserve natural resources and create welcoming habitats for wildlife so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, native bees, frogs and toads, and other wildlife.

And now it’s time to work on Ecosystem Farming!

Fortunately, some farmers are already doing this important work:

Remember, you Ecosystem Garden extends outward from your garden. When you choose to support local farmers who work to protect the environment and create welcoming habitat for wildlife, you are helping to change the farming paradigm that is doing so much harm to our environment–and our own health.

Many thanks to Bitty Ramirez-Portilla of Guatemala Nature Tours, the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable, and INGUAT (the Guatemala Tourist board) for inviting me to share Guatemala’s beauty.

Follow all of my birding adventures in Guatemala:

Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.

© 2013 – 2014, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Don't Miss! Wren Song, Our Weekly Newsletter

*Tips for planning your wildlife garden *How to choose the best native plants *How To projects for your wildlife garden *Recommended resources *Breaking news on upcoming projects *A summary of each article published by our team members each week

Comments

  1. says

    Great Post, Carole. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a place where you don’t have to ask if your food is grown organically?

    I wondered: How much Guatemala farmland is dedicated to growing organically, and how many farmers want to be designated wildlife preserves?

    I am excited to see where EcoSystem Farming will go!
    Kathy Vilim recently posted..Deciding When to Go

  2. says

    Here, here! I am fortunate to live in a community that supplies local food from organic, local farmers. Not only is it better for our environment but it tastes better and is better for us, too! I will go without rather than buy (vote for) meat from large factory feed farms and steer clear of all GMO corn products. I hope we see an end to big agriculture in my lifetime and more small scale organic farming that supports all life. It is uplifting to hear of these coffee farms in Guatemala.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 38. Turning Farms into Wildlife Habitat: I recently had the opportunity to tour several coffee fincas (farms) in Guatemala and I was very impressed that these farmers are passionate about creating habitat for birds and other wildlife on their farms. I’m also encouraged that these farmers are pursuing certification for their fincas as wildlife preserves… Carole Sevilla Brown [...]

  2. [...] I recently had the opportunity to tour several coffee fincas (farms) in Guatemala and I was very impressed that these farmers are passionate about creating habitat for birds and other wildlife on their farms. I’m also encouraged that these farmers are pursuing certification for their fincas as wildlife preserves. In order for a finca to be certified as a wildlife preserve, each farmer must set aside a certain percentage of their land to maintain in primary forest. Coffee and other crops must be grown organically with no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. And the farmers must manage their land in ways that creates welcoming habitat for birds and other wildlife.  [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current day month ye@r *

CommentLuv badge