Tag Archives: Agriculture

We’re Minding our Bees for Youse

beeterfly

 It may become a little more difficult to say, “pass the honey, Honey” in the future, as the fates of honeybee colonies continue to look grim. It is estimated that last year in 2013 in Iowa, 70% of the commercial honeybee industry collapsed due to harsh weather.

Honey production, although important, is not the only important task that honeybees provide. Pollination is the real value of honey bees. We all like to eat a diversity of foods in our diets. One-third of our global food supply depends on pollinators and much of our world’s biodiversity relies on the services they provide.

Plant, Grow, Fly

That’s why we applaud the work of the The Plant.Grow.Fly initiative. This worthwhile project is providing a gardening how-to guide for Iowans to support natural pollinators such as honeybees or butterflies.

Using region-specific garden recipes, you can plant the flowers and grasses that benefit local species the most.

The Plant.Grow.Fly project also is backed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Science Center of Iowa, Drake University, Polk County Conservation, Warren County Conservation, Madison County Conservation, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and Des Moines Area Community College’s West Campus as well as a national program, Monarch Joint Venture.

Stam’s does their little part

“It is believed that no effort is too small and that each of us can do our part to preserve the biodiversity around us — just by planning gardens in our yards.” says Jesse Lowry, Blank Park Zoo’s conservation coordinator.

So, this May 2014, Chocolaterie Stam with the help of David Hance, will plant on the corporate campus in Des Moines, a small pilot plot of butterfly and bee friendly natives. Additionally, Chocolaterie Stam has established with the help of apiarist friends, a hive of honeybees for eventual use as a natural ingredient in one our future bonbons. We will continue to check-in with our progress over this first summer and keep you posted on the “buzz”.

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Chocolate can be good for you!

cacao

Many agree that chocolate is good for one’s health, but can chocolate help curb global warming?  A small experiment in Eastern Brazil sows the seeds of a big reward perhaps helping to preserve the rainforest canopy.  It is called Cabruca farming.

Cabruca farming takes virgin rainforest and thins a few trees from the canopy leaving holes and letting in dappled sunlight.   After thinning the understory is planted with cacao trees — the source of chocolate. The pods contain the magical beans that Aztecs counted like gold. The cultivated cacao trees grow just a bit higher than a man can reach, and rainforest trees tower over them like something out of a Roald Dahl book—some round like lollipops, some flat like a plate.

And here’s the climate connection. Rainforest trees and plants store massive amounts of carbon — keeping it from getting into the air as carbon dioxide.  There’s a lot less rainforest than there once was. There used to be 330 million acres of rainforest in eastern Brazil, called the Mata Atlantica. Settlers arrived hundreds of years ago and began destroying the forest for the wood, and to create fields for pasture and crops. Only 7 percent of the Mata Atlantica remains, and destruction is still going on. Every time a tree is burned, its stored carbon is released. As more carbon is released into the air, the planet gets warmer.

Here’s a recent documentary reporting the process.

So if you don’t believe that chocolate may good for you, consider Cabruca farming and its potential to curb global warming.  The very least we will have more chocolate!