The Happy Berry

Environmental Management System

The Happy Berry EMS is our business management strategy for integrating environmental considerations into our production decisions on a day-to-day basis. We do this voluntarily because it is our hope that by publishing our EMS that the public will understand what we are trying to do and communicate their concerns to us about what they feel we are not doing. EMS is a continual process of establishing our farm environmental policy, having a plan to address that policy, implementing those policies, evaluate the end product of our efforts then make improvements in the policy and/or the plan if appropriate.

Our objectives are:

Threats to the global Environment at The Happy Berry:

Historical Perspective

Man has been having a significant impact on ecosystem of the region for the past 12,000 years. His activities have included hunting and gathering and in the more recent past of 7 or 8 thousand years, farming. At one time wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers roamed at The Happy Berry. Man suffered through at least one ice age. The basic system he used to manage the environment in his favor was fire. What you see to day is vastly different than it was 500, 1000 or even 5000 years ago. Picture if you will broad savannahs of grass, fire resistant trees, blueberry pine bogs and herds of buffalo. Each year the natives would set fires to control weeds, recycle nutrients for farming, encourage grazing species and maintain clear vistas and edge habitat to facilitate hunting. Not everything was burned every year. They practiced a form of crop rotation by burning, farming, and then resting and area for several years. They had no control of the fire other than the fire itself. Burned regularly the land did not accumulate large quantities of biomass hence the fires were not as hot.

In the last 300 hundred years invading man has played havoc with this sustainable fire management system. Early settlers learned fire management from the natives. However, with the advent of ownership, property rights, farming using European methods and hunting for export and lastly the abhorrence of uncontrolled fire the landscape became a tangle of trees and vines. With the growth of population along with European farming for cotton by the end of the early 1900’s the area was in the midst of a wood depression. There is picture my neighbor has of his relatives taken in Six Mile about 1910 with clock tower of Clemson University visible in the distance 10 miles away.

Our government enacted legislations in 18 64, 1914 that mandated soil conservation and enable public environmental education. A walk in the woods almost anywhere today reveals terracing installed as a result of that legislation, in an attempt to control soil erosion. Adjacent to The Happy Berry is a gully that is 40 feet deep, a legacy of that bygone era. These agencies still exist today and are known as the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the land grant cooperative extension service. What really saved the area was the [cotton] boll weevil and bollworms. These insect pests and the natural low cation exchange capacity [low fertility] of our soils made cotton production unsustainable [inputs exceeded returns].

As land went out of cotton, trees returned (mostly with abandonment) and the dominant agricultural industries of the area became timber and cattle with some market gardening. Most of the woods in the area are 40 to 90 years grown up. The timber harvest practice is known as high grading. Marketable species are removed and the weed trees are left. The system is unsustainable. Planned timbering is sustainable provided the price of land remains low. Planned timbering is just getting started in the last 30 to 50 years thanks to cooperative extension. It is a monoculture and the sustainability of the system is improving with riparian buffers and improved harvest access roads.

Livestock farming can be sustainable provided the price of the land remains low. The Natural Resource Conservation Service and cooperative extension are improving the sustainability of these systems by adding riparian areas and keeping livestock out of creeks. Livestock harvest systems around the world that are not sustainable, subsidized and are putting livestock products on the market at prices that will eventually destroy this regional industry. The combination of increasing land values and unsustainable production systems are putting livestock enterprises out of business.

Significant land in the area in the region is now being used for energy production using water in lakes for hydro and nuclear power. The power is being sold outside of our region/basin before the needs of the basin are assured. Irrigation, to provide for local sustainability of farm enterprises, is not even on the list of priorities for the use of the water. Highest priority is power followed by drinking water.

Land in the region has skyrocketed in value. Land that was given as offerings in local churches at 5 to 10 cents an acre in the late 1800’s has increased in value to $10 dollars an acre in the 1940’s to $60 dollars in the 1960’s to $10,000 dollars an acre in the early 21 st century. The sky rocketing land values has made it more profitable to invest the money than to manage the land in a sustainable manner, provide food locally, and preserve our soil and water (quality and quantity) for inhabitants of the region.

The availability of power, water for recreation and drinking, a moderate climate [the amount of energy to keep yourself in the comfort zone is minimal in the region] has resulted in rapid industry growth and urbanization. The urbanization has provide for increase in land values, an opportunity for market gardening and major threats of erosion, water pollution, air pollution and unsustainable system of land management.

Our Environmental Management System Policy Statement

It is the policy of The Happy Berry Inc. to manage the land and water resources for marketing gardening and associated enterprises using that land management for value added services to create a business that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable for now and the foreseeable future.

The cultural system will be a permanent system using perennial plants, permanent sod cover, and no land disruption such as mechanical plowing.

Sensitive riparian areas will be preserved using crops that are adapted to such riparian areas and perform the same ecosystem preserving services as a natural or left as natural riparian areas.

Hydrologically dynamic areas, swales, bio-retention areas, will be used to increase ground infiltration and limit movement of water off site to equal to or less than that which would move off site of undisturbed woodland.

Plant health will be managed using cultural, biological and plant pharmaceuticals to assure a safe and wholesome product for harvest and sale. Organic wastes and essential nutrients from on or off farm will be used to maintain adequate growth based on soil and foliar analysis in a fashion to prevent nutrient enrichment of surface and ground water.

Soil fertility and cation exchange capacity, will be increased by mulching all excess growth [prunings, clippings etc] promoting a biologically dynamic soil.

The Happy Berry is committed to complying with all pertinent environmental regulations and improving environmental performance.

The Happy Berry is committed to regularly reviewing these policies and practices as we sustain economic profitability, social acceptability with minimal negative environmental impact.

The Plan

Erosion — Because of the steep hilly nature of the land, the rows run up and down hill to avoid tractor roll over, in a north south direction to maximize available sunlight, at an angle so that the under bush expose soil surface to the down ward washing action of water is never more than a few feet. The water encounters grass strips between rows. These grass strips are only closely clipped for customer harvesting, mulching of prunings or for promoting good soil radiation when flower-damaging freezes are anticipated. Riparian strips are maintained next to streams with either and adapted elderberry species or native vegetation. Parking areas and roadways are purposely maintained as porous surfaces. Where standing water will not cause plant disease, swales and retention areas are (or to be) installed.

We are desirous of installing Loblolly Pines in widely spaced rows in an east west direction to provide 70 % available sunlight, on site production of mulch, passive frost control, cooling effects for customers, increase interception of rain, improved predator bird depredation of pine voles and reduced wind damage from violent summer thunderstorms. We lack the financial resources to implement this practice to know if it is economically sustainable. The added tasks/costs of limbing on the north and south side of trees, mulching the needles and branches and the risk of increase depredation from berry eating birds like Robins is unknown.

Loss of Biodynamic Soil Properties — The use of herbicides under the bushes reduces plant-to-plant competition for nutrients, water and light. It also improves air drainage and creates an environment less favorable for diseases like mummy berry, double blossom, various leaf spots and Botrytis fruit rots. These herbicides also reduce organic matter under the bush and subsequent organic matter content of soil and co commitment reduction in cation exchange capacity. To offset this disadvantage the distribution through side delivery of organic matter [grass clippings and leaves] through mowing and mulching of prunings is practiced. Where economically feasible organic material from off site is solicited. Delivery and application costs are significant and have limited this practice. The addition of Nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), calcium (CA) and magnesium (Mg) improves the organic content and thus cation exchange capacity of soils. This is accomplished with annul cycle of growth and death of the roots of bushes.

Plant Pharmaceutical contamination of surface and ground water — All plant pharmaceuticals are applied only when necessary and not as insurance. Scouting is used to determine necessity. Where ever possible resistant varieties, cultural tactics and environment modification is done to limit their use. All plant pharmaceuticals are applied in carefully calibrated sprayers either tractor driven or by backpack. Pressure is controlled to control droplet size and hence drift off the intended site. Materials are selected for efficacy in controlling the target organism and not affecting non-target organisms. On blueberries, once the fruit is set on the bush nothing but organic or biological controls are used. No plant pharmaceuticals are used in Figs or Elderberries. In brambles insect pharmaceuticals are applied after harvest or during the green fruit stage and only on those varieties susceptible to specific insect pests like mites and Psylla. With diseases bramble fruits are sprayed during harvest with pharmaceuticals to prevent fruit rots and growth of organisms like the Aspergilla’s that can produce toxins that damage people.

Plant pharmaceuticals for weed management include glyphosate, simazine, paraquat, diclobenil, oryzalin, and oxyflurofen among others. These are used at or less than labeled rates and alternating between groups to avoid resistance development. Careful scouting to know which species is emerging is coupled with hand/mechanical control to avoid resistant species build up. This program provides for natural degradation of most of these compounds in the soil. Regular use actually enhances the bio-degradation in soils. Alternation slows this microbe training process. Glyphosate breaks down to carbon hydrogen and oxygen and is environmentally benign. Paraquat is fixed to soil colloids and clay and is inactivated. It is a restricted use product due to applicator hazard and is quite persistent even though inactivated in the environment.

Plant pharmaceuticals to control insects and mites include carbamates [sevin], hexythiazox [Savey], Bacillus thuringensis [Dipel and others] a biological material, and organophosphates [malathion]. Sevin is not used at the Happy Berry because research shows its residues to persist in the fruit even though demonstrated as safe. Malathion is used because of safety to natural predators and short-lived residuals. Savey is a mite growth inhibitor, safe and we increase the preharvest interval by 10 fold and still achieve effective control. Spinosad is used in a bait as perimeter treatment around the farm for blueberry maggot control, Serenade is used for Mummy berry control in Blueberries.

Plant pharmaceuticals to control disease include benomyl, dicarboximides [Rovral], DMI’s [Nova], Phenylamides [Ridomil], strobilurins [Abound, Cabrio and Pristine], Hydroxanilides [Elevate], Serenade a certified organic fungicide and multisite compounds [various phosphites [we think these will be approved as organic], captan and Ziram]. Benomyl use is cancelled in 2005 because of lack of company support. We are hopeful that a sister compound will be labeled in time to replace it. This group is an important resistance management tool. Rovral use is also limited to 2 to 4 times per season to prevent resistance development in an alternating program. Rovral use has been dropped in 2006 again because of lack of company support. We are happy for the addition of the strobilurins [compounds discovered in certain mushrooms] but they are also limited to 2 or 4 applications per season alternating with the previously named pharmaceuticals and Elevate. Elevate is relatively new, recognized as safe material by the EPA. The backbone of our spray programs are the multisite materials such as the phosphites and serenade that trigger the plants own defense system and captan a protective material.

Plant pharmaceuticals to regulate growth include gibberellins. These are natural compounds consider to be organic and safe.

All preharvest intervals and re-entry intervals are closely observed. When signs are posted for customers and workers not to enter an area they should be honored. It is safe to enter these areas with personal protective equipment [check with us], which usually consists of shoes, pants, shirt and hat. No bare feet, shorts and halter tops etc. during the re-entry interval.

Nutrient enrichment of surface or groundwater — Annually, soils and foliage is analyzed by fields as identified by row numbers. All rows are numbered. Visual evaluations of growth are also made. The amounts of nutrients to be applied are based on this information. All nutrient rich manures, if used, are composted first to be sure nitrates are fixed in complex forms before being applied to the field. All mineral nutrients are applied by hand to the target sites in split applications based on crop loads. If crop loads are reduced the amount of fertilizer is reduced. Once phosphorous level has increased to high levels only maintenance amounts are used each year. No fertilizer is applied within 25 feet of a waterway. Pruning is done in the winter to stimulate re-growth.

Air Pollution and Global warming — Waste material, prunings are all composted in place and not burned. The composted material becomes part of the soil. As soil organic matter levels increase the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is slowed. The practice of pulsing vegetation provides for greater fixation of carbon dioxide than a mature forest stand. In blueberries the entire bush is recycled once every 5 to 6 years by removing 1/5 to 1/6 of the bush each year. In blackberries the entire biomass is cycled every 2 years. In Elderberries the entire biomass is cycled every 3-4 years.

Small equipment, a 25 horse tractor, Small mist blower, a handgun, electric golf cart and backpack sprayers are used to avoid high fuel consumption.

Please come visit us at the farm. Enjoy the fun of pick-your-own sweet, fresh, high quality berries in the marvelous out of doors. Not only is it fun; it is also healthy. Recent research has shown the berries are nutriceuticals.

The Happy Berry Bunch, Walker, Ann, Zoe, & Betty Ann