Gales Meadow Farm: Hedgerow Hero
Gales Meadow Farm spans 15 acres, nestled among hedgerows, wildflower patches, 70-year-old Douglas fir trees, and dense vegetation along a gurgling creek.
It’s a real-life storybook farm.
Romanticism aside, the neatly blended areas of native plants with crops provide habitat for beneficial insects and animals. For Anne and René Berblinger, the certified organic farm’s wildlife hotspots meet the USDA requirement to support biodiversity on-site. Additionally, the eco-hubs invite thousands of creepy-crawlies that make Gales Meadow a fertile and productive farm.
At first, the Berblingers approached NRCS to figure out how to use water more efficiently. Dean Moberg, an NRCS conservation specialist, helped the couple design and install drip irrigation. Before leaving, he asked them if they needed help with anything else. Anne said, “‘You know, I’ve always wanted a hedgerow.’ Both because we like the idea of supporting our wild neighbors, and also it’s a cool, romantic idea if you’re a fan of Victorian literature.” Gales Meadow Farm would soon welcome tons of new bugs and wildlife onto the property. Better yet, the new tenants would earn their room and board by pollinating crops and dining on pests.
Moberg and Lacey Townsend, now executive director for Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, helped the Berblingers through each step of the project. “We loved working with them,” said Anne. “Dean came to our farm and sat down with us, and helped us fill out the [EQIP] application. What could be easier?”
The Berblingers received a three-year contract to provide financial and technical support to build their dream hedgerow. The design offered optimal habitat for beneficial insects and birds, while also acting as a physical buffer from an adjacent highway. After years of crop damage from spotted cucumber beetles, the hedgerow — along with trap crops of wild cucumber — supported predatory insects in driving the beetles off their bean crops for good.
Through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS provided technical support and eased the financial barriers that prevent farmers like Anne from making conservation reforms that benefit the entire community.
Oregon Tilth supports over 2,000 NRCS staff — across 26 states — with organic-focused education. Over the last six years, we’ve led 49 workshops on pollinator plantings, beneficial insects, and biodiversity. Our goal is to empower NRCS staff to lead peer-to-peer learning in their fieldwork, helping all farmers put conservation principles into practice.
“Over the years my husband and I have just really been committed to sustainability in all facets. Plus we just love wildlife and diversity.”
Each farm is different, and conservation goals of a farm often reflect the place and people. A farm in a low precipitation zone may be more focused on preserving soil moisture, while a farm with fruit trees may want to attract native pollinators. For organic farmers, conservation is an integral part of their practice. Between organic’s focus on soil stewardship and biodiversity and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services‘ (NRCS) mission to “help people help the land” a partnership between Oregon Tilth and NRCS is only natural.
NRCS and Oregon Tilth partner to offer conservation know-how to a wider range of farmers, as well as boosting professional development on organic practices for conservation specialists. Together we assist more farmers in becoming better land stewards for future farmers and generations.
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