River Road Farm Ecology & Habitat
Farmer Greg has a passion for farm ecology. And what he means by farm ecology is a lot more than the produce plants, but the insects, the native plants, the chickens and their poop. In other words, the diversity. From knapweed field to thriving farm, Greg has created a thriving farm ecology at River Road Neighborhood Farm. This season, he’s has tracked two bumble bees at River Road: the rare western bumble bee and the Nevada bumble bee.
Basic farm ecology at River Road
When Greg started at River Road, it was mostly knapweed. Nothing grew particularly well. It took 3 years to get the insect population back up. Each year, there are new insects that appear.
One technique Greg uses to attract pollinators is plant flowers. River Road is on a little bit of an ecological island. We’re surrounded by all kinds of weeds and trees and we’re in an urban, suburban environment, and the Clark Fork River is just across the road.
On the sides of the farm, there are piles of dirt and weeds put there very purposefully. Most things on a farm are disturbed, but pollinators need undisturbed zones. These piles create exactly what these pollinators need — a niche habitat. All kinds of insects will live there. Other animals will take up residence as well — like snakes.
Greg has found that observing the wildlife can also help his farmer. By tracking a neighboring raccoon and her kits, he knows when the corn is ripe. When it is ready, she starts eating the corn. That tells him that he is rounding out the habitat well in an urban-suburban environment. We receive our foods, but also create habitats for creatures great and small.
For the full story, watch the video, Greg in his own words, in the fields.