Blue Dasher Farm sets Keep Hives Alive Tour event in S.D.
ESTELLINE, S.D. -- Blue Dasher Farm, a new independent research farm for sustainable farming practices, announced it will hold its first event -- a national kick-off for the so-called "Keep the Hives Alive Tour" at 6:30 p.m., June 13, at the farm...
ESTELLINE, S.D. - Blue Dasher Farm, a new independent research farm for sustainable farming practices, announced it will hold its first event - a national kick-off for the so-called "Keep the Hives Alive Tour" at 6:30 p.m., June 13, at the farm, immediately to the east of the Brandt, S.D., Exit 157 on Interstate Highway 29.
Blue Dasher Farm was established to be a center "for excellence in regenerative farming practices" by Jon Lundgren, a biologist who had worked at the federal North Central Ag Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D. Lundgren's concern about links between the collapse of honeybee colonies and agrichemicals led to a still-unresolved dispute between him and his previous employer - the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
The farm is part of a Keep the Hives Alive Tour, which includes stops in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina during National Pollinator Week, June 13 to 23. At the end of the tour, beekeepers, farm workers, farmers, scientists and other advocates will bring a truck load of dead bees to Washington, D.C., to urge the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress "to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture," according to promotional material for the tour.
The tour is organized by a consortium of stakeholder groups, and staffed nationally by Friends of the Earth. Other supporters include the Center for Food Safety, and the Pollinator Steward Council. Information on the event can be found at #KeepHivesAlive, or @keephivesalive.
Blue Dasher has started to establish its research laboratory and has planted its own crops of borage and hubam, an annual sweet clover. Lundgren also is working with other farmers in the county to plant "specialty crops that are excellent bee crops and value seed crops," Lundgren says. They had hoped to establish 75 hives with donated queens but they weren't available, so they’ve started with 20 hives. "It's my first first-hand experience with the honeybee death problem," he says.
At the Blue Dasher Farms event, Lundgren is hosting a panel discussion on "how to use agriculture to solve the bee problem," according to the promotion. Lundgren says Blue Dasher Farm will be a place to "demonstrate how focusing on diversity and soil health on a farm can help to save the honey bee."
Lundgren will be joined on a panel by Bret Adee, president of the Pollinator Stewardship Council and owner of over 60,000 hives in Bruce, S.D.; Jesse Hall, a farmer from Arlington, S.D.; Jessica Kruse, a rancher from Gary, S.D.; and Frank and Kim James, leaders of Dakota Rural Action, Toronto, S.D.
At USDA, Lundgren became a federal whistle-blower in October 2015, saying the ARS had suppressed his career for speaking his mind on the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on honeybees. He said the "neonics" seem to be "staying put" in the environment and showing up in untreated plants. Others in agriculture assert that bees are affected more by varoa mites, or some combination of environmental effects.
Lundgren no longer works for USDA, but says the lawsuits continue to progress.
Friends of the Earth U.S. were founded in California in 1969 by David Brower and became a founding member of Friends of the Earth International. It demotes the practice of "factory farming," in which animals are raised in high stocking densities.