Natural Pest Control Workshop a Success!

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Farmers from east central Ontario gathered at Wheelbarrow Farm this past Sunday to learn about natural pest and disease control methods suitable for all scales of organic production. The instructor, Dr. Fulvio Gioanetto, began the day with a lecture on plant pathology, the detriments of conventional pest and disease controls, and the use of common perennial plants as bioindicators of soil health.

Dr. Gioanetto stressed the importance of not forcing farmlands into cropping systems for which they are not well suited. Instead, he urged the group to become better at observing the individual characteristics of our farmlands, to see them as complex, interconnected systems. If farmers can train themselves to better observe what their properties tell them through the presence (or absence) of native perennials and soil types, then farms and crops will be healthier as a result.  

Once attuned to what their lands tell them, Dr. Gioanetto argued that farmers will also be able to utilize their properties’ pervasive weeds and minerals advantageously. One such way of doing so is through simple decoctions of plant-based chemicals found throughout the farm. With simple ingredients like sunflower oil or high-proof alcohol, mixed with common perennials from around the farm, sprays can be created to control disease and pests.

After a thorough and hands-on tour of the plants prevalent in the Wheelbarrow fields, Dr. Gioanetto illustrated the steps involved in creating simple, organic solutions that could be used to control the farm’s persistent pests and diseases. Equipped with this knowledge and a simple backpack sprayer, it was impressed upon the group that even the most stubborn and problematic pests could be easily and organically managed, without the use of persistent and harmful chemicals.

We’d like to thank the folks at Plan B Organic Farms for partnering with us on this informative event, as well as the crew at Wheelbarrow Farm for hosting and providing a delicious lunch. We’re also grateful for the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Career Focus Program, as well as the CFDC in all the work that we do. Stay tuned for an updated schedule of fall programming, coming soon to a farm near you!