Blog Post By Linzi Gay
Helping Bees for a Better Future
Fact: 28% of North American bumble bees species are in decline.*
Fact: There are roughly 3,600 species of bees native to North America.*
Fact: Roughly 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is the result of insects moving pollen between flowers.*
Pollinators are essential to our survival. Everything that we eat is in some way impacted by pollinators, particularly honey bees. However, our honey bees are in trouble and the service that pollinators provide is at risk and one of the leading causes is widespread habitat loss.
At Clif Family, we have always understood the importance of honey bees to life on the farm. We have maintained hives for many years and see the benefits that our bees provide our fruit trees and vegetable crops. Each year we harvest the sweet nectar from our hives and share a very small supply of honey with our guests in the Tasting Room.
This spring, an exciting new project designed to support pollinators came our way. This project was centered around “Solar Grown,” a recent trademark of Fresh Energy, a non-profit working towards a clean energy economy. This term indicates that a product was produced on or adjacent to a solar farm that uses pollinator-friendly plants under and/or around the panels to control storm water, improve the soil, and provide additional benefits.
As solar energy development has rapidly bloomed over the past decade in the United States, so has an opportunity to develop flowering landscapes that provide nesting habitat and diverse food sources for bees, monarchs, and other pollinators. The land under and around ground-mounted solar panels makes the perfect landscape for nectar and pollen-producing plants to thrive.
When we first learned about Solar Grown™ products, Clif Bar’s Bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho was in the process of building one of these pollinator-friendly solar farms. The project officially opened in September 2019, and the solar farm is the largest solar array in the state of Idaho, providing almost 30% of the power needs for the bakery. Eventually, beehives will be placed near the solar array, creating an additional source of Solar Grown honey.
As the Twin Falls Bakery Solar Farm continues to develop, our first Solar Grown product is our Raw Honey, coming from hives that were placed near a solar farm in Forest City, Iowa. This solar farm was supported by Clif Bar via their work with Native Energy, a carbon offset provider that develops projects and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The solar project was thoughtfully designed by OneEnergy Renewables and is now owned and managed by Blu Earth Renewables. With a seed mix designed by the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, the Forest City, Iowa solar array is one of the first pollinator-friendly solar farms in the region and part of an exciting national trend.
Clif Family is excited to share a Solar Grown product with you and through this delicious honey, provide more awareness and understanding of what we can all do to create acres of healthy habitat and food sources for honey bees, native bees, and other wildlife. Clif Bar treats energy as an ingredient that’s part of the recipe—and Clif Family would love to share a jar with you. You can find our Solar Grown honey at cliffamily.com or in our Napa Valley Tasting Room.
*Source: Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Solar Grown is a trademark of Fresh Energy, a nonprofit organization