California Giant Gets Bee Better Certified ™
WATSONVILLE, CA - California Giant Berry Farms is paving the way for the industry in sustainability with a new certification program that boosts sustainability efforts, protects endangered species, and delivers delicious fresh organic and conventional blueberries to the consumer. The grower and its partner, AC Foods, worked with the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization that focuses on bee conservation, to become Bee Better Certified™.
When asked “Why bee better??” Markus Duran, North American Blueberry Operations Manager, said, “The response I have is, why not? Many of the food sources we enjoy today depend on bees! They are facing many threats including disease and less habitat to be reproductive.”
The certification process ensures that every farm provides native habitat for wild bees. The certified farms, Halls Ferry Farm and Humbug Farm, provide a minimum of five percent native pollinator habitat on the farm that includes nesting areas and buffer zones for wild bees. The Xerces Society developed the Bee Better Certified program, and is the world’s largest pollinator conservation team in the world, according to a press release.
Successful farming of blueberries depends on supporting a positive environment for wild bees and other pollinators, and for California Giant and AC Foods, supporting bee habitats can ensure a future for all wild pollinators—a future that begins with restoring native habitat. Most of the industry uses large commercial pollinators, but wild bees can live naturally on blueberry farms, thriving in dedicated land as they work to pollinate blueberries in a healthy environment for them and the fruit. The Xerces Society has been working with the company to improve the biodiversity of its farms and make it better for wild pollinators.
“Xerces Society has developed a standard to ensure protection from pesticides, abundance of flowering areas throughout the growing season, a place for the bees to call home, and an ecosystem where the spread of disease is limited due to more native bees versus commercial bees. Sustainable farming at its core depends on bee friendly environments. I believe in Bee Better, the Xerces Society has created something special,” said Duran.
To gain certification, The Xerces Society works directly with farmers to provide forage for wild bees—critical for their reproductive success. When more pollen and nectar are available close to bee nest sites, female bees can more efficiently forage and lay more eggs. The result is a farm that grows an abundance of its own pollinators. Because 35 percent of worldwide crop production depends on pollinators, this certification is an important step in protecting and building native habitats for the future of agriculture.
Oregon-grown California Giant blueberries will now be sporting the Bee Better certification mark, so consumers will know that with each purchase they are protecting wild bees on thriving and nutritious farms.
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