The Kincaid’s lupine, an endangered wildflower in the state of Washington, will be the center of attention at the fifth annual Lupine Pasture Walk. In celebration of the plant’s unexpected success at an organic dairy farm in Lewis County, a free public event will be held on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Mallonee Farm and nearby Baw-Faw Grange Hall, 995 Boistfort Rd. in Curtis, Wash.
The 320-acre farm, located 40 miles south of Olympia, is owned by the Mallonee family, who are members of the farmer-owned Organic Valley cooperative. Their organic pasture, home to Washington’s largest concentration of the rare flower, represents the northernmost range of the Kincaid’s lupine, a flower normally found primarily on the dry upland prairies on the western side of the Willamette Valley.
The day’s program includes presentations by a representative from the Washington Natural Heritage Program and by Organic Valley farmer-owner and third-generation dairy farmer, Maynard Mallonee. Mallonee will explain the steps being taken to preserve the rare plant species, highlighting the important role his farm’s intensive grazing practices have played in the resurgence of Kincaid’s lupine and other rare, native wildflowers.
Registration for this free, family friendly outing is requested by June 10, and can be made my calling 360-245-3733 or by emailing maynard(at)malloneefarms.com. Participants will enjoy an organic picnic-style lunch, compliments of Organic Valley. For directions, visit www.malloneefarms.com.
In 2006, an employee from the Washington Department of Natural Resources discovered a large population of the lavender-colored perennial lupine on the Mallonee family farm, an organic pasture-based dairy with 60 head of cattle. The cows graze the competing grasses and avoid the lupines, allowing them to thrive.
The Mallonee family has strived to maintain a safe and sustainable habitat for the endangered flower and its equally endangered inhabitant, the Fender’s Blue Butterfly, which completes its larval stage in the lupine’s root system to emerge as a caterpillar and feed on the flower’s leaves.
“The same approach that allows our dairy cattle to thrive has made our pastures an ideal home for the lupine,” says Mallonee. “We credit our organic and sustainable practices with the lupine’s success on our farm.”
“Kincaid’s lupine and other endangered plants are remnants of the historic prairie that once covered large areas of the Puget Trough,” says Joe Arnett, a rare plant specialist with Washington Natural Heritage Program. “By partnering with the Mallonees to establish a preservation plan, we are looking after our state’s natural heritage for future generations while continuing to use the land for organic pasturing. We hope others will learn from the Mallonees experience so we can generate similar success stories in the region.”
Optional Botany Bike Ride with Capital Bicycling Club of Olympia
Cyclists can add a ride in the country to their Lupine Pasture Walk experience by arriving early for the self-guided Botany Bike Ride. The ride begins at 10 a.m. sharp and makes a 20-mile loop around the region’s moderately hilly terrain. The ride begins and ends at the Baw-Faw Grange Hall, site of the Lupine Pasture Walk and lunch. Maps will be provided by the Olympia’s Capital Bicycling Club. For more information on the bike ride, contact JD Miller at 253-905-6681 or JMille2788(at)aol.com.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,617 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $619 million in 2010 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, yogurt, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative's farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @Organic_Valley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.