Rainier Fruit Company (RFC), one of the largest U.S. growers of organic fresh apples, pears, cherries and blueberries, said its organic blueberry operation is on track to earn Bee Better Certification.
Habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation, pesticide use, and introduced diseases all contribute to declines of bees, according to the nonprofit Xerces Society, which teamed up with sustainable and organic agriculture certification agency, Oregon Tilth, to launch the Bee Better Certified program in 2017.
In collaboration with Xerces, Selah, Wash.-based RFC, which was certified organic in 2004 by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said planted nearly 150 acres of wildflowers among multiple ranches over the last three years in an effort to help attract, protect, and sustain native pollinators in their fields.
“It’s pretty simple; if we don’t protect the bees, we don’t have fruit to sell,” said Tyler Johnson, Rainier Fruit’s blueberry commodity manager. “The Bee Better Certified seal also gives today’s source-conscious shoppers confidence that their purchasing decisions are benefiting pollinators and conservation-minded companies.”
“This certification will not only cover our blueberries but also expand to include other crops in our portfolio as well,” said Johnson, alluding to RFC’s year-round organic apple program and upcoming cherry season. “We’re looking forward to another exciting and innovating blueberry season as we work toward multiple certifications, integrate new genetics into our program, and take our 2020 organic blueberry crop from June through September for another season.”