Farms and nature are often seen as opposing forces. One plows down wild spaces, builds fences and turns a wary eye toward the native wildlife. The other follows the way of the wild, nurturing an array of critters ready to pounce upon the free grocery store in their midst and even assault their domesticated brethren.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. With creativity and careful accommodations, farmers and ranchers have found ways to coexist with wildlife.
Some farmers leave wildlife zones unplowed to assure a healthy ecology that sustains pollinators, a benefit to agriculture. Others install warning flags, guard dogs and other measures to deter predators and avoid calamities on both sides.
There’s even a certification for growers and producers who take effective steps to co-exist peaceably with their wild neighbors.
The Predator Friendly® certification, which recognizes wildlife stewardship by farmers, has been around for about 20 years. Members include sheep, bison and cattle ranchers, dairy producers and apiarists.
This week the group welcomed the first Virginia farm to be awarded the certification, Ayrshire Farm of Upperville, just west of Washington D.C.
Already an advocate of sustainable farming, Ayrshire can now claim the Predator Friendly® certification for its beef, rose veal, pork, chicken, eggs, and honey.
The farm’s products are sold online and at the Home Farm Store in Middleburg, Va., and appear on the menu at Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville and in other restaurants in the D.C. area
The Ayrshire operation is wildlife friendly because it makes sure there’s habitat for wild critters with open access to streams and ponds. Their livestock co-exists with bobcats, coyotes, hawks, bear and bald eagles.
"Ayrshire has a long history of predator friendly practices," said Chris Damewood, property manager for Ayrshire Farm, in a statement announcing the certification. "It's great to be able to add predator friendly to our multiple credentials such as Certified Humane® and USDA Organic."
Julie Stein, executive director of The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, which manages the certification program, said the group was thrilled to add a member, extending the “best practices” that will help conserve wildlife on private lands across America.
“Farms across the Piedmont of Virginia are ripe to serve as models of these best practices for the mid-Atlantic," she said.
Read more about other certified members of the group here.
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