Several Mediterranean fruit flies, known as one of the most dangerous and destructive pests to fruit crops, have been found in Solano county which is approximately 70 miles from San Francisco.
In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday, Solano County Agricultural Commissioner Jerry Howard called the fruit fly "The single biggest threat to agriculture there is."
The main way that fruit flies come into an area is through fruit carried across state lines, and a USDA spokesperson has said that this infestation of fruit flies most likely came from mangoes carried from Hawaii.
When fruit flies are found, the reaction by agricultural agencies is swift and intense. Within days of the announcement, millions of sterile fruit flies had been dropped by plane into the affected area. When female fruit flies mate, they die and sterile fruit flies produce no offspring.
I noticed the fruit fly story last week, but have to admit that the effect of it on our agriculture did not hit home until I read the Eatwell Farm Blog this morning. Eatwell is a polycultural, organic farm in Yolo county. The farm's location is approximately 3 miles from the fruit fly affected area in Solano County.
In order to cease the movement of the fruit fly from the affected area, agriculture officials have placed a quarantine on certain produce within a 4.5 mile radius. This places Eatwell Farm within the quarantine, and they are not allowed to move any tree fruit, eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers off the farm.
Anyone who knows Eatwell from the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is aware of the fact that they are smack in the middle of their "Tomato Wonderland" and are one of the main providers of heirloom tomatoes at the market. With this quarantine, it sounds like the tomato season for Eatwell is over.
There are a couple of things that you can do to help this plight. I hope that you will consider doing one of the following:
- If you are an Eatwell CSA member, don't drop your membership. Knowing the farmer, Nigel Walker, he is going to do everything he can to make sure you have a good box each week. This is part of the "through thick and thin" agreement of a traditional CSA. A CSA member prospers when the farm prospers, and takes a hit when the farm takes a hit.
- If you are a Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market shopper, stop by the Eatwell booth this week and buy an item or two that they bring to the market.
- Read the news. I pray that this doesn't affect more farms that it already has, but if it does, it will affect our San Francisco produce supply.
- Adhere to all fruit and vegetable restrictions. The laws set by the state of California are for the protection of our tremendous agricultural economy.
Photo: Eatwell Farm, Jason Meagher, 2006.