This week we all got to see some great beneficial organisms in action! On the farm we have all kinds of organisms doing their thing: insects, bacteria, fungi, yeasts, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, animals, human beings etc. Some are what we call ‘good guys’, some are ‘bad guys’, and some are more neutral. But we are still learning tons about what all these organisms do! It is kind of obnoxious to judge them according to our needs, but we do. I figure most organisms are ‘good guys’, or beneficial.

The first round of buckwheat cover crop (a beneficial plant) was ready to be mowed, but before mowing, we checked out what was living on it. At first, the buckwheat had aphids on it (a pest). Then the ladybird beetles (a beneficial insect) moved in because they eat aphids. In a way, the aphids are beneficial because they provide a food source for ladybird beetles. The ladybird beetles (or ladybugs) reproduce by laying eggs, they hatch and the larvae emerge. Problem is, they look like little alligators and we might mistakenly think they are bad guys. Good thing is, the larvae are voracious feeders and consume soft-bodied plant pests like aphids and mites! They are highly prized and we want to encourage them. Then they pupate and look a little like Colorado Potato Beetles (a pest) before they become ladybird beetles (a beneficial). We have to be careful to respect all the organisms and assume they are beneficial before we squish them!

The farm is such a complex and dynamic ecosystem, and I include us human beings as part of it. Our job as farmers is to allow the beneficials to do their jobs, and just try to provide an environment that keeps things from getting out of balance.

Ladybird beetle larvae eat soft-bodied pests like aphids and mites. They look ferocious!
Pupal stage of a ladybird beetle on buckwheat. They look a little like Colorado Potato Beetles, who we consider to be pests.
We had a visit from Jessie and Crystal from Riverview Herbs. It’s always fun to talk shop with other farmers.
Rachel harvesting bunches of chicory. An amazing plant for digestive health!
Erin and Johanna loading the delivery van
Andrew, left, gave everyone the gift of mowing the irrigation header in Fox Field. Eli, right, gives everyone the gift of irrigation. She even hopped in the pond to get the intake hose out of the mud.
At Market, we offer bagged greens as part of the farm share. Please note that three dots means the large bag is 3 items in the share
Buckwheat cover crop is considered a beneficial, unless it goes to seed, and becomes weedy. Time to mow and incorporate it into the soil!
This buckwheat is so good for soil conditioning and weed control
Karina is the newest member of Team AA. She brings with her a deep love of food, especially tomatoes!
Young cukes in the field tunnel covered with insect net. We hope they are safe in there from the squash beetle and cucumber beetle!
Opening up Field P2 continues! Olivia and Andrew are very determined. Cover crops going in soon.
Tomatoes before pruning, late in the day when the sun is going down. Every hair on the stem is lit up!

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