Selah, Washington-based Rainier Fruit Co. says that its 100-percent organic blueberry operation is on track to earn the title of Bee Better Certified in July, just in time for summer and Washington blueberry season’s first pick.
“Rainier Fruit has been family-owned and operated for five generations, and it goes without saying that we would like to last another five,” said Mark Zirkle, president of Zirkle Fruit Co. “The need to sustain our fields and pollinators is crucial to that goal, which makes involvement in programs like Bee Better Certified a natural choice, as well as an exciting one.”
In collaboration with the Xerces Society, Rainier planted nearly 150 acres of wildflowers throughout 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.”
Cameron Newell, coordinator for the Bee Better Certified program, added, “By building new habitats and limiting threats, such as pesticides, the team at Rainier Fruit is creating resilient farming systems that benefit pollinators and many other beneficial insects they rely on. We are proud of the habitat work that Rainier has done across many of their ranches, and we are excited to see them embrace Bee Better Certified.”
Additionally, Johnson said that this certification doesn’t just cover Rainier’s blueberries, but it also expands to include its other crops, such as organic apples and cherries.
“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,” Johnson said.
Rainier Fruit is a multi-generation, vertically integrated fruit company. For more than 100 years, Rainier Fruit has cultivated a culture of stewardship that extends from their orchards to their communities that has made them an industry leader in the production of apples, pears, cherries and blueberries.