Being a strawberry farmer is no easy job. With the average U.S. consumer buying and eating almost five pounds of strawberries every year, and grocery stores only desiring the best-looking batches, strawberry farmers often have to resort to pesticides to yield an attractive crop. Up until recently, Jim Cochran was one of those farmers. On the Swanton Berry Farms in California, Cochran would normally spray upwards of 300 pounds of Organophosphate pesticides onto his plants. When Cochran found out that his strawberry samples were found to have nine known carcinogens, 11 neurotoxins, 12 developmental toxins, and 19 honeybee toxins, he knew he had to change his farming protocol.
Cochran felt that he needed to rise up to the challenge and prove that there was a less harmful way to farm the beloved fruit. Cochran began using beneficial bugs instead of pesticides, eliminated the need for fungicides by single row planting, and replaced chemical fertilizers with crop rotations. To the surprise of many, his plan worked and he got a bountiful strawberry harvest using his new methods! His dedication and innovative strategies show that the agriculture system does not need to abide by the rigid structure set in place, and should evolve based on the latest scientific evidence. We applaud Jim Cochran for challenging the status quo and hope he serves as an example for other farmers battling with the same issues!