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NMSU farmscaping workshop, walking tour planned at four farms

Jane Moorman

, 2011

NMSU farmscaping workshop, walking tour planned at four farms

Learn how to make better use of nature's pest management services at one of four free, on-site farmscaping workshop presented by New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and hosted by producers of a variety of crops throughout New Mexico.

"Farmscaping is a whole-farm, ecological approach to habitat management aimed at increasing the number of beneficial organisms," said Tess Grasswitz, NMSU urban/small farm integrated pest management specialist. "Many pest populations can be reduced by enhancing the efficacy and local abundance of the existing community of natural enemies through modification of the environment, a concept known as conservation biological control."

"Farmscaping methods include the use of insectary plants, hedgerows, cover crops, nest boxes or roosting sites that can attract and support beneficial organisms, such as predatory and parasitic insects, spiders, birds and bats, all of which can help suppress insect pests and problem vertebrates such as mice and gophers," said Joanie Quinn, advisor with the NMDA organic program.

The series of workshops is being hosted by producers in four different areas of New Mexico - Deming, Gallup, Tucumcari and Los Lunas.

Each workshop will consist of a farm walk followed by a classroom session in which participants will use maps of their own farms to plan their own farmscape improvements. Following are the dates and locations:

Wednesday, Aug. 10, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Jason Nicoll farm and greenhouse near Deming. This event is hosted jointly by Nicoll and Jack Blandford, NMSU Luna County Extension agent. Nicoll grows tomatoes and other produce, in addition to raising chickens.

Sunday, Aug. 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.at Steve Heil's farm near Gallup. The event is hosted jointly by Heil, a certified organic grower for two years, and Kathy Landers, NMSU McKinley County Extension director.

"Heil, a presenter at the 2010 New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, has taken a different approach to integrating crops into his five-acre farm in Gallup by putting a native plant, greenthread, into cultivation," Grasswitz said. "He has also begun using satellite mapping of his farm to develop his farmscaping plan."

Sunday, Sept. 11, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Darrell and Sally Baker's farm near Tucumcari. The event is hosted jointly by the Bakers and Tom Dominguez, NMSU Quay County Extension agent.

"This host-farm site is a former livestock operation, now converted to an extensive garden that includes heirloom crop varieties," Grasswitz said. "The classroom session will be held at the Quay County Extension office."

Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas.
"The Los Lunas science center is in the process of transitioning several acres to organic production," Grasswitz said of the facility where she is stationed. "The site has an established pollinator planting and a variety of vertebrate enhancement features that will be viewed and discussed."

There is no charge for attending any of the workshops, but participants are asked to pre-register by contacting Quinn at 505-889-9921 or jquinn@nmda.nmsu.edu. No refreshments will be provided, so participants are asked to bring a lunch, an adequate supply of water and to wear appropriate clothing for a walking tour. They are also asked to bring a map or Google Earth picture of their farm to help with the farmscape planning process.

These events are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture under their Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordination and Support program.