Feeling a bit stuffed full of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast? Did you know cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America and were eaten by the Native Americans long before Europeans arrived? When the Dutch arrived around 1655, they thought cranberry flowers resembled crane’s heads and dubbed them “craneberries,” which later evolved to cranberries.
Today, you can thank cranberry growers like Linda Rinta and the Rinta Family Farm of West Wareham, MA, for the cranberries on your table. In fact, Linda was just selected as the recipient of the 2020 New England Leopold Conservation Award®. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes those who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife resources in their care. (In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac; Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. He wrote it was “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”)
Like Aldo Leopold, Linda Rinta sees herself as a “sand farmer.” Linda brought a conservation ethic into her marriage to third-generation cranberry grower, Paul Rinta. As cranberry farms confronted new environmental laws within the 1980s, Linda returned to varsity to review environmental science and public coverage. She needed to be a part of the change that was affecting their livelihood.
Since then, native, state, and nationwide protections for wetlands have advanced. So has Linda’s function as a pacesetter and advocate for conservation farming. By means of her work off the farm, and an elected submit with the Plymouth County Conservation District, Linda has spent 35 years educating others about how farmers can defend the setting whereas utilizing pure assets to develop a crop.
Water, Pollination, & Planning
Cranberry rising depends on obtainable clear water and the flexibility to retailer and transfer it effectively. Water utilization on her farm has been diminished via a renovated irrigation system. As well as, Linda’s efforts led to the adoption of two of essentially the most vital cranberry water-use conservation practices. Tailwater restoration ponds and bypass canals are actually business requirements for environment friendly and conservation-focused cranberry farms.
Linda raises honey bees and has planted acres of habitat for native bees and bug pollinators. She has sought modern methods to find pollinator habitat round photo voltaic arrays and cranberry bogs, whereas defending pollinators from pesticides.
She even grows Cape American Seashore Grass as a nursery product on the farm’s wetlands and sandy areas. The grass is used for restorations of sand dunes and different fragile coastal ecosystems.
Linda not solely farms with a conservation ethic, however reveals others do it. A part of her farm enterprise features a conservation planning service. It helps different growers doc their administration practices and people they plan to do to adjust to environmental laws. She’s at dwelling in each the cranberry bathroom and in conferences with politicians and environmental leaders. When talking with fellow farmers concerning the significance of offering pollinator habitat subsequent to cranberry bogs, she’s effectively conscious of what it takes to make a residing off the land.
Two monumental challenges “hit our household farm like a twister in 2018,” in accordance with Linda. “My husband, the supervisor of our farm, the person who might and did repair every little thing, and supported and promoted all of my conservation efforts through the years, died with out educating us every little thing he knew,” she stated. Linda says farming has by no means been for the faint of coronary heart, however her husband’s loss of life coupled with a steep drop in cranberry costs put the farm’s resilience to the check. Considered one of their grown sons stepped as much as handle the cranberry bogs.
At this time, Linda manages the property, grows and sells seashore grass, and can proceed conservation planning work. Above all else, she embodies the Leopold land ethic with a dedication to farmers and accountable stewardship of the cranberry nation she loves.
Earlier this 12 months, homeowners of forestland and farmland in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have been inspired to use (or be nominated) for the award. Functions have been reviewed by an unbiased panel of agricultural and forestry conservation leaders.
The Leopold Conservation Award
Sand County Basis presents the Leopold Conservation Award® yearly in 21 states with a wide range of conservation, agricultural and forestry organizations. In New England, the award is offered yearly by Sand County Basis, American Farmland Belief, and regional companions: New England Forestry Basis, American Farmland Belief-New England, and the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative.
“We’re happy to current this award to Linda Rinta and the Rinta Household Farm for the implementation of modern water-use conservation practices within the water intensive manufacturing of cranberries, their give attention to pollinator habitat and safety of pollinators from pesticides,” stated John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Belief. “At AFT we consider that conservation in agriculture requires a give attention to the land, the practices and the individuals. The Leopold Conservation Award acknowledges the integral function of all three.”
“What distinguishes Ms. Rinta will not be solely her lengthy historical past of sustainable land stewardship but additionally her achievements in educating others and making it simpler for different stewards to comply with their goals and connections to the land,” stated Bob Perschel, Govt Director of New England Forestry Basis. “It’s additionally great to see this award going to a conservationist who farms cranberries, a crop that’s strongly related to New England, in a means that protects the New England setting.”
Earlier this 12 months, homeowners of forestland and farmland in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have been inspired to use (or be nominated) for the award. Functions have been reviewed by an unbiased panel of agricultural and forestry conservation leaders. For extra data on the award, go to www.leopoldconservationaward.org.