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People Behind The Plants: Stacy Morrison

Welcome to another edition of People Behind The Plants where we introduce you to a Backyard Farms' employee and tell you about the things he or she does to help us deliver the tomatoes you love to your favorite supermarket, farm stand, restaurant or college/university! This month we're excited to introduce you to Stacy Morrison, our Assistant Manager of Integrated Pest Management.

Stacy started working at Backyard Farms in 2011 after graduating from Unity College in Unity Maine where she double majored in Wildlife and Sustainable Agriculture. Originally from Dekalb Junction in upstate New York, Stacy fell in love with Maine and small town life in Madison. Having grown up on a dairy farm, she feels right at home in Somerset County but appreciates the fact that Portland is just an hour and a half away. Stacy's first job at Backyard Farms was a Crop Care Specialist where she learned firsthand about the biggest threats to our production goals, the dreaded white fly.

Stacy became so interested in combatting our arch-nemesis that she joined our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) team in 2013. IPM is a fancy term for all of the actions we take to control bugs in the greenhouse. Even though we can control things like temperature, humidity and the amount of light our plants receive, we're not immune from the same pests that regular tomato growers face in their outdoor fields. In addition to white flies, we have to deal with aphids, russet mites and caterpillars. Each of our two greenhouses has a dedicated IPM team whose sole responsibility is to monitor pest activity, control their populations and do everything they can to prevent them from speading.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF STACY MORRISON

The IPM teams in each of our two connected greenhouses (Greenhouse 1 is 24 acres. Greenhouse 2 is 18 acres) report to Stacy so she splits her time between each one, walking the rows with her people to understand what's happening, how things are working and any additional actions the teams need to take in order to protect our plants. "Our first line of defense is our roller traps," Stacy explains. "That's the sticky yellow tape placed in every row at the head of the crop to catch adult whitefly which are attracted to the yellow color. We also apply greenhouse wide Botanigard treatments weekly. This is a preventative fungus treatment that attacks whitefly larvae that's harmless to humans. From there, we look for areas where the white flies have laid eggs and remove the leaves before they can hatch. It's a constant battle and white flies reproduce so quickly you can never let your guard down."

FAVORITE PART OF WORKING AT BACKYARD FARMS

“I love the people,” Stacey says. "And I love them for different reasons. Some have great senses of humor to keep us smiling on challenging days. Others have years of experience that I regular benefit from. Everyone here brings something different to the table here at Backyard Farms and if you're willing to listen and apply their observations and experience to your work, you can learn a lot and make a difference."

OUTSIDE THE FARM

When Stacy isn’t fighting pests in the greenhouse she enjoys running. Her proudest accomplishment was completing the Bay of Fundy Marathon in Lubec, Maine which she recommends to any aspiring marathoner who can't get a number at the major events in Boston and New York: "It was beautiful, there were coastal views throughout the run!"

THE ONE THING SHE WANTS BACKYARD FARMS CUSTOMERS TO KNOW

Stacy didn't have to think about this answer: "I want our customers to konw that when it comes to treating pests the IPM team uses every natural and biological resource available before turning to pesticides as an absolute last resort." Most of the time, the preventive measures and biological treatments Stacy and her team use (like the aforementioned Biogard treatments and roller traps as well as beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps that lay their eggs in white fly larvae) do the job but every so often, we need to spot treat with pesticides. When we do, we only use treatments that are NOT on Whole Foods Market's List of Prohibited Pesticides.

Stacy is one of the 200+ people working hard every day to help Backyard Farms grow, pick, pack and ship the frest, best-tasting tomatoes you can buy. CLICK HERE to meet more of our People Behind The Plants!