Let me tell you ’bout the Bears and the Bees!
Farming at an elevation of 8000 feet is challenging in itself. Farming while paying attention to the greater picture of environmental integrity is the vision of Zach and Jasmine Cecelic of the Wildhood Farm in Truchas New Mexico. A vision which is encapsulated in this line from Zach’s web-bio, “Today, he makes his personal philosophy a practice by creating room and habitat for all of his human and non-human friends.”
Jasmine talked freely and happily about her dedication to being a producer and honoring the natural world. When I spoke with her this afternoon, she told me where her motivation came from in these simple words,”why be at war with something when you don’t have to be?” What appears to be ‘the enemy’ when looking at predators is really just one part of an intricate system that can be used to incorporate wild lands and domestic food production in a successful symbiosis.
So, how have Zach and Jasmine gone about this process of living and farming peacefully with nature? Jasmine said that they started by using raptors for pest management. This cuts down on rodents but also limits the amount of fruit and nuts lost to smaller birds that like to gorge on the harvest!
This is the way the Cecelic’s see things; as fragmentation diminishes wild habitat with every passing year, the central focus for all the things wild animals need in the form of food, water and shelter become more available ON THE FARM, thus setting the scene for more potential conflict. By having dedicated forested areas as well as pasture and by replanting native wild food sources on the peripheries of their land, Zach and Jasmine are able to give the wild ones the space they need and also produce their own crops unhindered. The birds and bears even take care of distributing the wild native foods by moving them through their digestions and spreading the seeds ‘the natural way’. Zach and Jasmine have learned that you must ‘think ahead’, and ‘plan for abundance’ so that the small amount of produce the wildlife share doesn’t negatively impact your yield.
There are mountain lions, coyotes and bears all around the high country where Wildhood farm nestles among the crags and high desert flora. Fruit trees and nut trees grow in abundance and there are flowers to tempt bees whose hives have their place on the farm too.
A small amount of electric fencing courtesy of the forest service allows the bears to be safe from habituation to the hives, but Jasmine has even ‘thought ahead’ where the bees are concerned by allowing feral bees the space to pollinate across the land.
The coyotes help to control the small mammals, happy to eat their preferred prey and not tempted to ‘steal’ from the farm.
The mountain lions are seldom, if ever, seen and by listening carefully to some of the oldest of old-timers, Jasmine has learned how these predators were once valued for culling the sick or weak and for possibly saving the herd from disease outbreak.
The work at Wildhood Farm has only just begun. After a year on the property the Cecelic’s have wonderful plans to continue their wildlife friendly operation in ways that teach us all the possibilities that can happen when you see the bigger picture!
It was a delight to hear about Wildhood Farm. You can find out more at their website: