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The Bee Farm: An Agroecological Master Plan

bryan quinn

 

The Bee Farm is a beautiful 160-acre property of pasture and woodland in Rensselaerville, New York for which One Nature created an Agro-Ecological Master Plan. Interestingly, the farm got its name from a previous owner who was the state beekeeping inspector and maintained hundreds of hives at the Bee Farm. The current owner now produces a small amount of honey, uses the land to grow hay, would like to develop an ecological reserve, and allow for bird watching, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

After repeated site visits and in-depth analysis, One Nature put together a comprehensive master plan to address ecologically sound maintenance of existing field habitats, a strategy for managing forest areas, maintenance and definition of pathways, and the best locations for future building projects. The plan also includes ecological restoration initiatives that would enhance views, increase biodiversity, encourage pollinators, and promote agriculture.

Open land at the Bee Farm consists of about 20 acres of hay field and less than 60 acres of wild field. One Nature recommends gradually converting the wild fields into hay fields over a five-year period to maximize agriculturally productive land. Controlled burns should be conducted every 10 to 20 years to encourage vigorous growth and nutrient cycling, and reduce invasive species. Supplemental seeding with a mixture of flowering native species would be help promote diversity and pollinator habitat.

Most uplands in the northeast eventually transition to forest. To preserve crucial pollinator habitat, we must from time to time modify the landscape.

Most uplands in the northeast eventually transition to forest. To preserve crucial pollinator habitat, we must from time to time modify the landscape.

Ecological restoration of forested, meadow, and wetland areas is an important component of the master plan. One Nature recommends select removal of unwanted plant and tree species and new plantings to provide better growing conditions for native species. Structures such as bird and owl houses, snags, and brush piles should be installed throughout the site to encourage native wildlife habitation. Building buffer zones around each water feature on the property, including ponds, vernal pools, and seasonal drainage basins, will protect these habitats.

Agriculturally-centered development can allow small holder farmers to share resources between multiple properties.

Agriculturally-centered development can allow small holder farmers to share resources between multiple properties.

One Nature’s agro-ecological approach will allow this client to create a holistic balance between wild and cultivated habitats at the expansive Bee Farm. Practicing agro-ecology results in more resilient and sustainable farming, and ends up creating stunning landscapes rich with native plant and animal life.