WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brendon Rockey, trendsetter and potato farmer at Rockey Farms, recognizes the importance of supporting a diverse pollinator population for a healthy farm and satisfied consumers. Located in Center, Rockey Farms is known for growing specialty potatoes and quinoa. Under Brendon’s direction, Rockey Farms has become a leader in using a biotic approach to farming.
Rockey Farms is alive with biological inputs. Companion crops, livestock, green manure fields, and flowering strips – instead of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides – are all part of a system that supports soil health and attracts beneficial insects that defend against aphids and thrips. Pollinators are abundant across the farm, thriving in its diverse, chemical-free environment. Four-row flowering strips in his fields serve as nectar hubs and helped give his 90 seed potato lots a perfect inspection score under biotic Integrated Pest Management last year. Brendon also uses nectar plants in his potato greenhouse to create beneficial insect habitat and eliminate the need for insecticide. He has begun incorporating a legume heavy mix of companion crops that fix nitrogen, mobilize phosphorus, and host pollinators. During the winter months, Brendon travels North America sharing his successes, and in 2017, went as far as France and Belgium.
Rockey’s commitment to environmental stewardship and pollinator conservation has not gone unnoticed. He was named a Soil Health Champion by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) last year, and has proven a tremendous advocate for conservation practices and an excellent mentor to many of the Soil Health Champions Network’s 170 members. On October 17, at the 17th Annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) Conference Evening Reception at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., Rockey was also awarded this year’s NAPPC-NACD U.S. Farmer-Rancher Award.
The NAPPC-NACD U.S. Farmer-Rancher Award recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to pollinator protection, conservation, and issue outreach resulting in increased awareness of the importance of pollinators and pollination within the agricultural community. This special award sheds light on the contributions of American farmers to natural and cultural resource preservation. Brendon Rockey shares this great honor this year with Canadian farmer-rancher, Antony John, of Soiled Reputation.
The world it depends on pollinators. Without pollinators, humans would lose one third of their diet, nearly all high-nutrient food, most terrestrial ecosystems would collapse, important plant species that provide the raw materials for medicines would die out, and the biosphere would stop filtering air and freshwater for us and other wildlife. Today, more than ever, healthy pollinator habitat is threatened by uncontrolled development, agricultural intensification, chemical misuse, and pathogen introduction. Some species have seen a 90 percent decline in their populations over the last decade.
The Pollinator Partnership (P2), as the world’s largest organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators, hopes to encourage environmental stewardship and to catalyze future actions that benefit pollinators by identifying individuals that have taken on advocacy. P2 manages NAPPC and coordinates pollinator conservation outreach with over 150 stakeholders. P2 works to promote widespread collaborative stewardship practices on public, private, open, and working lands, across institutions and among individuals.
For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.
To learn more about the NAPPC and the Pollinator Partnership, visit www.pollinator.org, contact [email protected], or call 415-362-1137.
Caption: Brendon Rockey speaks during the 7th Annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) Conference. Courtesy photo