Daily News Archive

UCA DPR Recognizes Five Companies and Organizations for Environmental Excellence
(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2004)
On October 13, 2004, The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recognized five California companies and organizations for environmental excellence as part of DPR's 2004 IPM Innovator Awards. "In the past 11 years, more than 80 public and private organizations have joined DPR's elite group of IPM Innovators," said DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam. "They are diverse -- our award recipients include commodity groups, municipal governments and schools, urban gardeners, water treatment facilities and community planners."

She continued, "They all share a common dedication to improving pest management while also improving our state's environment. They are the everyday heroes of environmental protection." Warmerdam presented the 2004 awards in ceremonies held at California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters.

The 2004 IPM Innovators:

-- Earthbound Farm of Monterey County pioneered the retail market for packaged salads while introducing large-scale lettuce-growing operations to organic production methods.

-- Fetzer Vineyards of Mendocino County has demonstrated leadership in sustainable viticulture.

-- Green Gardener Certification Program of Santa Barbara County created a unique IPM training program for commercial urban gardeners.

-- Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group of Napa County brought together industry, government, and educational resources to develop and promote reduced-risk practices in the Napa Valley.

-- Robert Sinskey Vineyards of Napa County developed intensive, organic production methods while educating other growers and the public with demonstrations, field projects, and workshops.

The five recipients were chosen by DPR after detailed reviews of their programs, with an emphasis on education and outreach activities. Recipients were also cited for their dedication to "sustainable" practices. Sustainability includes a commitment to protect the environment, conserve natural resources, preserve economic viability, and promote social responsibility.

For more information on how to be nominated for a future DPR IPM Innovator award, see www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/ipminov/innovatr.htm. Additional details on the 2004 awards follow:

Earthbound Farm, Carmel

Started as a 22-acre garden in Carmel Valley in 1984, Earthbound Farm has grown into a leading organic grower and shipper in North America. Owners Drew and Myra Goodman developed a market for pre-washed, packaged salads in the retail market. In the 1990s, the Goodmans partnered with Mission Ranches and Tanimura & Antle to show the large-scale viability of organic farming. Today, Earthbound Farm grows certified organic produce on about 24,500 acres. Much of Earthbound's acreage is located near residential areas in Carmel Valley and schools in San Juan Bautista. Earthbound's reduced-risk approach to pest management helps make its farming operations more compatible with its neighbors. In addition to producing its own organic fertilizers and compost, Earthbound has developed beneficial habitat strips -- featuring customized flower blends -- that attract pest-predator insects and mites to crops. Earthbound estimates that these and other IPM techniques helped the firm avoid using 400,000 pounds of conventional pesticides and three million pounds of synthetic fertilizers in 2003 alone. In support of IPM education and outreach, Earthbound holds monthly farm tours, harvest walks, and chef walks at the company's Carmel Valley farm stand. School tours, college scholarships for environmental majors, and the annual Eco-Farm Conference at Asilomar are sponsored by the firm. Earthbound's Web site and a yearly consumer newsletter (circulation 100,000) emphasize the value of organic farming. An impressive track record in organic farming, and extensive outreach and educational efforts, make Earthbound Farm an outstanding IPM innovator. Media contact: Communications Manager Samantha Cabaluna, (831) 622-3418 or e-mail [email protected].

Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland

Fetzer Vineyards began as a family-run business in Mendocino County in the 1970s. Production and sales expanded rapidly in the 1980s, and Fetzer became a nationally-known label. Fetzer was purchased by Brown-Forman Corporation in 1992. Fetzer now has nearly 2,000 acres certified in organic production, and the company buys grapes from 150 growers who are encouraged to use sustainable or organic practices. Fetzer has demonstrated long-term environmental and economic success with organic practices and IPM. Some examples: weeds are controlled mainly by mechanical cultivation, and in some cases supplemented by cover crops. Weather stations and weather modeling improved the timing of sulfur applications for mildew, reducing use of the chemical. Biodiversity and beneficial insects are encouraged with diverse cover crops, vineyard border habitat, and habitat "corridors" filled with flowers, shrubs, and trees. Native plants are conserved throughout vineyards, especially along waterways, to prevent erosion. Owls and other raptors are also attracted to such areas, providing natural rodent control. In IPM education and outreach, Fetzer vineyard managers regularly make presentations about sustainability to grower groups. Fetzer also works closely with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in Mendocino to provide public information about innovations in pest management and provide facilities to support UCCE workshops. In 2003, Fetzer hired an outreach program manager to supervise grower courses in organic viticulture. The company continues a tradition of IPM innovation within California's winegrape industry. Media contact: James Caudill (415) 444-7410, cell (707) 799-0144, or e-mail [email protected].

Green Gardener Certification Program, Santa Barbara

This program, jointly operated by the city and county of Santa Barbara, began in 2000. It offers a ten-week training session that certifies landscape professionals as Green Gardeners, who are then listed on a Web site (www.greengardener.org) for prospective employers. The program represents a convergence of environmental interests: Santa Barbara residents wanted to hire gardeners trained in resource protection; commercial gardeners recognized that training could enhance their business prospects, and public agencies recognized an opportunity to keep pesticides and fertilizer runoff out of the water system. The Green Gardener Program focuses on pest prevention, plant pruning, irrigation practices, and other IPM topics. An advanced training program delves into pest identification, bio-control, and reduced-risk pest management options. The initial, 14-hour bilingual training has been expanded to 45 hours at the request of students. In the past four years, the program has trained about 700 landscape professionals, and more than 60 percent of them are Spanish-speaking. Many Green Gardeners had no previous formal training in pesticide use, IPM, or runoff prevention. The program has been used by the University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, and the City of Santa Maria. The program also has attracted interest for similar efforts in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Francisco, and Alameda counties, as well as Boulder, Colorado, and Boston, Massachusetts. The focus on Spanish-speaking landscape workers alone would merit an IPM Innovator award, but the program also links IPM to less-recognized components of good pest management, such as pruning and irrigation. The Green Gardener program demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together on innovative approaches to environmental protection. Media contact: Darcy Aston, Green Gardener Certification Program Co-Director, (805) 568-3546, or e-mail [email protected].

Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group, Napa

This non-profit group was organized in 1995 to identify and promote IPM practices in Napa County. DPR recognized that initial effort with a Pest Management Demonstration Grant. Members of the group include 15 local wineries and vineyard managers, four vineyard management companies, the Napa County Resource Conservation District (which coordinates the group), University of California Cooperative Extension, Napa Valley Grape Grower's Association, UC Davis Plant Pathology Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services, and the Napa County Agricultural Commissioner. No membership fees are imposed and the group focuses on sharing objective information that helps promote viticultural land stewardship. The goal is sustainable farming practices that are economically, socially, and environmentally sound. With various members in the lead, the group has taken part in research projects on sustainable weed management; cover crops for beneficial insects; management of Pierce's Disease and mildew; raptor, bat, and bluebird habitat for pest control; grape vine nutrition, and other IPM-oriented topics. Education and outreach efforts include monthly member forums, newsletters and online publications (www.nswg.org/), and annual seminars for Spanish- and English-speaking grape growers. The Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group brings together some of the region's most IPM-conscious vineyard managers, growers, and researchers. These influential individuals and organizations have played a major role in providing innovative IPM information to the winegrape industry in Napa and beyond. Media contact: Astrid Bock-Foster, (707) 252-4188 or e-mail [email protected].

Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Napa

Dr. Robert Sinskey's interest in winegrapes dates back to at least the 1960s, when he foresaw changes in the American diet that included more healthful, international cuisine -- and a growing appreciation for fine wines. He became involved in winegrape production in the 1970s, and Robert Sinskey Vineyards (www.robertsinskey.com), a limited partnership, produced its first vintage in 1986. During the 1990s, vintner Rob Sinskey Jr. and winemaker Jeff Virnig concluded that many farming problems were related to conventional techniques. They adopted the then-unusual practices of using compost and cover crops to build quality soil, and went on to develop other sustainable practices. Today, all 160 acres of vineyards are certified organic. Robert Sinskey Vineyards employs "biodynamic farming," a system that promotes cover cropping, pest monitoring, low-volume spraying, and liquid compost, while minimizing tillage. Education and outreach efforts are notable: Vineyards are often used for demonstrations of organic and sustainable practices. The firm also is working with UC Davis researchers to investigate options for controlling bird pests. Vineyard staff regularly exchange information with other growers, and the firm is involved with other IPM efforts, including the Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group (award above), Napa Valley Grape Growers Association, Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group, and the Vine Mealybug Workgroup. Media contact: Meg Barkley, (800) 869-2030, or e-mail [email protected].