Habitat: Maverick Farming
Variety is the spice of life! It's crucial to keep this in mind when we look at monocrops like wine grape vineyards.
The good news is, SIP Certified vineyards protect natural habitat and encourage biodiversity.
You're SIP Certified!
But does your team know what it means?
This brand new, 30-minute online training course helps your team:
Monocrops put a damper on biodiversity.
They can deplete soils and put native plant and animal species out of a home.
The vineyard must be thought of as its own ecosystem inside of a larger ecosystem. That's why sustainable winegrowers emphasize biodiversity in their vineyards.
They preserve open space and keep portions of the property un-cropped, use native plants that beneficial insects love in their cover crops and landscaping, and maintain short- and long-term conservation plans.
Protecting and regenerating habitat ensures that future generations have a healthy, thriving planet to call home. Maverick Farming, a vineyard management company in Santa Barbara who manages several SIP Certified properties, made changes to their tillage practices and noticed several benefits to their habitat.
Habitat at Maverick Farming
By working with the natural environment, Maverick Farming has improved their soil health, increased the number of beneficial insects, established native grasses, and saved money.
This helped to improve the habitat, and it freed up funds to spend on more sustainability projects.
Chad Foster, Operations Manager of Maverick Farming, says that what originally began as a way to be more effective with their budgeting, reducing tillage practices and allowing native grasses to flourish as cover crops have promoted root growth and better vine health in the vineyards they manage.
These reductions in tillage encourage beneficial soil microbes and insect populations to establish themselves in these vineyards. Chad notices an uptick in lacewing and ladybugs where the cover crops have been allowed to flourish.
The highly regenerative nature of native grasses makes them an excellent cover crop, as they reseed themselves when they get mowed down. This is a
great example of how working with an environment’s natural ecosystem can support a cultivated agricultural system.
In some blocks, disking and leveling are necessary due to vertebrate pests making grounds uneven, but Maverick decided to stop tilling just to till – their land didn’t have much of a need, as there weren’t many erosion issues. They no longer disc after harvest, and are able to take the money that was once spent on these efforts and either save it or move it to more pressing projects.
3 Ways to Train Your Staff
Here are 3 ways to use it as a training tool for your entire team:
1. Training for the Whole Team
Bring the worksheet to your next staff meeting, put the training course on a screen, and go through it together.
SIP Tip: We recommend you invite your farmer, winemaker, general manager, and any other key staff so they can tell you all about specific sustainable practices.
2. Got remote employees? No problem!
Sign in to your virtual meeting platform, share your screen, and watch the course together.
Use this course in your onboarding to help familiarize your new staff with your brand’s values:
SIP Tip: record yourself going through the course and include it in your onboarding packet.
Kudos to You!
Your commitment to sustainability is something to be proud of.
Not every winegrower has what it takes to get SIP Certified.
Your brand goes above and beyond to track its progress and make improvements over time, all in the name of protecting the people and the planet.
Did you know that monitoring your progress toward a goal increases the likelihood of goal success?
The effect is even larger when outcomes are made public, and when information is physically recorded (Harkin et al, 2016).
That's exactly what you do when you document your practices year after year through SIP Certified.
So kudos to you for recognizing and celebrating your sustainable wins, finding areas where you can make improvements, and looking back in time and see how far you've come.
“What our General Manager and Winemaker have always liked about SIP Certified is that it's audited, documented, and it focuses on continual improvement. It's been a hallmark of how they do it and forms the basis for how they train their team.”
– John Gayley, Hospitality Team Member, Center of Effort