"A growing number of farms are seeking out pollinator-friendly certifications, but the two programs offering certification—run by the Xerces Society and Pollinator Partnership—are taking very different approaches."
"Far North Spirits, the northernmost farm and distillery in the contiguous United States, grows the rye for its whiskey and distills it on the farm. Just 25 miles south of Minnesota’s border with Canada, the farm’s fields of golden rye and heirloom corn are interspersed with highbush cranberry shrubs, bushy crabapple and plum trees, native grasses, and a growing number of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Those plants—and the pollinators they feed—have been there since long before Far North’s owners Mike Swanson and Cheri Reese took over Swanson’s family farm and built a distillery in 2013. But this year, they decided to start making their presence known to their customers by applying for a Bee Friendly Farm designation from Pollinator Partnership, a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting and promoting pollinators and the ecosystems they rely on.
For one, says Swanson, pollinators provide a lively entry point for talking with his customers about the way he and Reese run the farming part of their operation.
“Soil health, ecological diversity, sustainable ecosystems—all these things are very important to us. But I wanted a way to talk to people about what was going to be interesting to them,” he says. “When you’re talking about bees, that tends to pique people’s interest a little better. So, we’re able to talk about farming without talking about farming.”"
Twilight Greenaway and Cinnamon Janzer report for Civil Eats October 17, 2022.