Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Paul Bootsma, CFFO Field Services Manager
On July 3, the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) hosted a tour of three sites that are part of Operation Pollinator.
Operation Pollinator is “an international biodiversity program from Syngenta, designed to enhance the number of pollinating insects on farms and in out-of-play areas on golf courses.” The program enabled farmers to establish pollinator habitat on marginal land by providing pollinator-friendly seed mix and expert advice on best management of pollen and nectar habitats.
In 2018, OSCIA partnered with the Soil Conservation Council of Canada and Syngenta to deliver Operation Pollinator in Ontario. Over 60 acres of offset land was seeded across the province. During OSCIA’s tour last week, participants visited three sites that were planted in 2018 with a mix of seeds that produce flowers loved by bees of all types.
This is the second summer for each of the three plots, and visitors were able to see how the plots have developed and changed as they matured and grew. The first plot still had a significant variety of flowers. The owner reported that a regular passerby once commented that he was surprised that the plot was left to grow with weeds. He didn’t know what the flowers were for or the true meaning of the word “weed.”
The second and third plots visited were mostly Phacelia in the first year, but are now dominated by clover, one red and the other yellow, which shows how dominant plants emerge over time. The second location already had some beehives nearby, which were very active; The owner reported already having to split one hive. She also reported capturing a bee swarm, which is now developing into a productive hive.
When standing close to the stand of flowers, the sound of buzzing bees and insects can easily be heard, suggesting that having these specific areas for pollinators is a benefit to the environment. Many farms across Ontario most likely have an acre or two that easily can be turned into a site for pollinators, creating a win-win-win situation: for the pollinators, the environment and consumer relations.
CFFO members are invited to learn more about bees and the bee farming industry in Ontario during our annual Agri-Day, Tuesday, August 27, 2019. This fun-filled tour will take place in the Niagara region, where guests will learn more about the bee-keeping industry, tour local apiaries, and visit a local winery and meadery. More information is available on the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario website.