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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farm Biodiversity, Part 1

Cherie Langlois
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

tree frog
Photo by Cherie Langlois

I found this tree frog hiding in one of our
apple trees.

I'm a big believer in that old saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” 

Huge monocultures of corn and soybeans; vast tracts of cloned houses; chain restaurants offering the same fast food: They all leave me feeling bored and vaguely depressed. 

I'd prefer instead to indulge in a countryside patchwork quilt of woodlots, pastures and family farms nurturing diverse crops; small town neighborhoods where every home and garden wears a different face; a vibrant urban district full of delicious ethnic eateries (and a farmer's market). 

I feel the same way about the living diversity that makes our planet the absolutely amazing place that it is.  I just can’t imagine how dull and desolate a world this would be if every human looked and acted the same, or if all but a pitiful fraction of its astounding array of plant and animal species vanished. 

I love that our farm is home not just to my family and I, and our domesticated animals and crops, but to an exciting array of wild fauna and native flora, too, from tiny Deer Mice to towering Western Red Cedar trees.   

Sadly, we humans continue our push toward monotony, at least in the realm of non-human species: According to my August/September 2010 issue of National Wildlife the global rate of extinction is accelerating at a record pace. 

Of course, that’s bad news for those species, gone forever, but it’s also bad news for other species—including us. 

In the feature article “A Dose of Diversity,” writer Jessica Snyder discusses two ways in which species extinctions have been shown to impact humans: By promoting the rise and spread of infectious diseases like West Nile Virus, and by threatening important medical research. 

For example, amphibians produce natural chemicals to help protect their bodies from infection, and so may hold the key to helping researchers develop new drugs to combat antibiotic-resistant infections.  Yet, as the story points out, amphibians “are in the midst of an extinction crisis worldwide.” 

To celebrate the rich diversity of life on Earth and heighten awareness of species extinctions, the United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity

What better time to celebrate and nurture the biodiversity found on our own farms?  In my next blog or two, I'll introduce you to some of the varied plant and animal species—beautiful, not-so-beautiful, fascinating, frustrating, and so much more—that enliven our 5-acre hobby farm here in Washington state.

PS.  Let’s hear about your own farm’s biodiversity, too!

~  Cherie      

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Farm Biodiversity, Part 1

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Reader Comments
Tammy, Livingston, TX
Posted: 11/15/2010 4:51:22 PM
Oh wow. I was accidentally bio-diverse all this time : )
John, Kapaa, HI
Posted: 11/7/2010 9:57:19 AM
My area is sadly becoming very developed and we are losing a lot of the beauty and natural diversity we used to have. However it's not gone yet! We have a big black rat snake that shows its face from time to time, and the bats that have been missing the past couple of years seem to have returned.
Lady Radagast, West Grove, PA
Posted: 9/2/2010 8:04:13 AM
Me too. I want all types of farm animals. I love them all and can't wait to look out my back porch over my own little slice of heaven.
christine, st augustine, FL
Posted: 8/6/2010 4:02:12 AM
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