Rewilding Vineyards and Orchards in the Okanagan

The best intentions don’t always lead to the best results. Placing a vineyard or orchard next to a wild environment so that both farmed and non-farmed environments can exist and the farm can benefit from pollination from wild bees, beetles, wasps and flies is not necessarily a great idea. A recent study reported in The Guardian and, shows how the lives of bumble bees, vital early and late season pollinators and necessary as foundations of ecosystems, are adversely affected by Glysophate, the active ingredient in the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. Here is some Roundup at work in a vineyard (plunked into wild land to create a Provençal-Sagebrush aesthetic, a little bit of “you can have it all” and a bit more of “we can get permission to build housing in a sensitive area by creating wild corridors”) in Vernon.

Nicely, wild flowers grow here in the spring, as well as feral dandelions, surely great for birds and bees, or you would think so, but no.

Glyphosate impairs bee thermoregulation

Nonlethal effects matter

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides globally, with broad usage in both home and agricultural settings. Debate is ongoing with regard to whether this chemical threatens vertebrates, including humans. However, the nontarget organisms with the greatest exposure are insects, a group that is both essential and seemingly in decline. Weidenmüller et al. looked at the impacts of glyphosate on bumblebees, essential pollinators, and found that whereas environmentally realistic exposure levels were not directly lethal, they did result in a decrease in the ability of colony members to maintain required hive temperatures (see the Perspective by Crall). Such nonlethal effects can have pernicious effects that lead to indirect decline in this already challenged group. —SNV,

This, too:


Insects are facing a multitude of anthropogenic stressors, and the recent decline in their biodiversity is threatening ecosystems and economies across the globe. We investigated the impact of glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide worldwide, on bumblebees. Bumblebee colonies maintain their brood at high temperatures via active thermogenesis, a prerequisite for colony growth and reproduction. Using a within-colony comparative approach to examine the effects of long-term glyphosate exposure on both individual and collective thermoregulation, we found that whereas effects are weak at the level of the individual, the collective ability to maintain the necessary high brood temperatures is decreased by more than 25% during periods of resource limitation. For pollinators in our heavily stressed ecosystems, glyphosate exposure carries hidden costs that have so far been largely,

So, the question really is not “how can we physically and aesthetically integrate farming and environments”, which leads to monocultures, excluding bees and birds from interface environments to create vast deserts (at great expense)…

Ice Wine at Work and Play

… but how can we enrich the interface enough that there is a surplus for birds and bees, and a corresponding surplus for humans. To achieve that, concepts of wild or cultivated, of private and public, are going to have to change, reversing the privatization that happened in the Fraser Gold Rush of 1858, when land and water and people were all redefined, in the lack of any governmental presence, into an image of California Gold Rush (1849) law, such as it was. One way or another, we are going to have to rediscover Syilx values on this land, the value of working towards robust environmental diversity and health leading to a harvestable surplus. Glysophate might be necessary to retain large industrial plantations, which can be harvested at low labour cost for great private profit, but it can’t be tolerated anymore. Correspondingly, either industrial plantations and their physical and social interfaces must end, or new methods are urgently required, ones which can limit but not eliminate exposure to birds, sustain bees across entire seasons, allow mammals to feed and migrate, sustain grasslands and allow humans to live honourable, aesthetically-pleasing lives. Our efforts to date have failed. Tomorrow, let’s talk about what we can do to make our farms ethical again. Until then, here’s some reading from last year:

Talk to you soon!

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