Zirkle Fruit staff install pollinator habitat as part of the efforts to become Bee Better Certified, by Zirkle Fruit Company
A Bee Better Harvest
Zirkle Fruit Company in 2020

As the harvest season nears its end in the Northwestern U.S., we hope the team at the Zirkle Fruit company will have some time to sit back and celebrate their recent achievements. One of these  is their expansion of Bee Better Certified blueberries and cherries. 

Having worked closely with the folks at Zirkle Fruit for the last few years, our guess is that there won’t be too much time to rest and reflect--as a company at the forefront of innovation, there isn’t much in the way of down time. Rainier Fruit is one of the largest growers of organic tree fruit in the U.S. and with its continued commitment to sustainability and innovation, Bee Better Certified is a natural fit.

"As a company based in the soil - both figuratively and literally - Rainier Fruit values opportunities that reduce our impact on the environment and wildlife. Our family has grown fruit for over a century, and the Bee Better program aligned with our desire to sustain our operation and the land we maintain for generations to come," said Blake Belknap, VP of Sales Rainier Fruit.

 

Sweat bee on Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) near blueberry orchard, by Xerces Society / Kitty Bolte

 

The Zirkle Fruit Company and its packing and marketing division, Rainier Fruit, started out this year with an ambitious goal to bring a new crop of Bee Better Certified blueberries and cherries to market.  After thoughtful planning and site selection, they focused in on the crop lands where they thought they could make the biggest improvements for pollinators. Through this process, they ultimately restored healthy habitat for bees by installing nearly 5 acres of native flowering shrubs and wildflowers, as well as 8.5 acres of cover crops. They also modified their use of pesticides to meet Bee Better requirements, providing robust protection for bees and other beneficial insects. Amazingly, they did all of this -- resulting in over 300 acres of Certified blueberry and cherry orchards -- in under 5 months! Rather than calling it good, rumor has it, they already have even more great things in the works.

 

Zirkle Fruit apple orchard drive row in bloom, by Cameron Newell

 

For more information on the program or how to get certified please contact the team at Bee Better Certified: [email protected]

 

Written By: 
Cameron Newell, Bee Better Certified Program Coordinator