Technically, IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. Fundamentally, it is a toolbox that farmers use to control insect, disease, and weed pests. However, in addition to all the basic “screwdrivers” and “hammers” in any toolbox, each farmer makes a decision about whether to use a big hammer, or a small hammer, or no hammer at all (maybe a ratchet or drill makes more sense). That is, IPM includes the use of chemical, biological, or cultural means to control pests (these are our hammers and screwdrivers). A farmer’s level of commitment to sustainability will determine whether it is a big, medium, or small hammer, an entirely different tool altogether. IPM is a sliding scale concept. You get to choose.
At Red Jacket Orchards, we practice something called “progressive IPM.” Not a real catchy term, but what it means is that on that sliding scale we’re focused on using a biological/cultural approach. Utilization of this kind of approach allows us to increase the overall sustainability of our program, including future organic production (beginning in 2011). You won’t see an IPM logo on our boxes, but you will see Certified Sustainable by the Food Alliance for our plums and apricots. In addition to the organic production we’ll have going forward, we plan to extend CS certification to other crops as we move foward.
Sustainability is a key commitment on the part of Red Jacket Orchards. IPM is one tool in an ever-expanding toolbox.