Ladybugs are in the air, literally. This past weekend, I celebrated Earth Day at Ramirez Pecan Farms at their annual Ladybug Release Festival.
At first I thought I was just going to enjoy a fun family weekend, and as it usually happens, I learned so much more. I was lucky enough to visit with the owner himself, Lupe Ramirez Sr., who explained to me how important these lucky ladybugs really are to our farming ecosystem.
As large farms maintain their products and crops, it is common to find many farmers who spray pesticides. However, pesticides have now been linked to dangerous effects such as reproductive and developmental effects, cancer, kidney and liver damage among other things.
With so many farms in the Lower Valley, it makes one wonder: how many are using pesticides that will seep into the soil and eventually into our water? For anyone purchasing from Ramirez Pecan Farm they can rest assured as they are 100% organic and do not use pesticides.
Mr. Ramirez found a solution years ago that was both fun and friendly for the environment: ladybugs. Mother Earth really is amazing when you stop and think how all we need is found around us. Ladybugs are nature’s natural pesticide, they eat the insects (Aphids) that kill crops.
Ramirez Pecan Farm was ahead of their time, they first started releasing ladybugs in 2011; by 2013 they decided to open up the process to the public, so what started off as a way to contribute to the environment on Earth Day has now blossomed into a full two-day event for the family.
As I walked the farm, I saw plenty of vendors, food and families playing ring toss, Jenga, etc… and kids reading all the “fun facts” signs posted throughout the area. Finally the big moment came, everyone gathered to watch the release of the lucky ladybugs.
As Mr. Ramirez explained to me (in addition to soil contamination) pesticides are harsh chemicals, so the temperature of the water has to be at an extreme hot setting in order to wash the pecans. This means the water ends up cooking the nut inside the shell and you risk chemicals seeping into the meat of the nut as well.
With Ladybugs, all of that can be avoided. You do have to spend money on shipping in the Ladybugs but Mr. Ramirez says it is well worth it to spend a little extra more and keeping things organic and healthy in the long run.
I returned the next day to watch the process of the pecans being washed and Jr. Ramirez showed me the difference in how to spot a “good” pecan. Pecan season starts in November, when they are picked and then sent into cool storage to safely preserve the meat of the nut.
When the time comes, they take the amount needed out of storage to wash and shell them, once they are ready they are packaged and sealed ready for sale. These natural process of maintenance will give the meat of the nut a natural light to medium brown color.
When pecans have been under extreme heat to rid of pesticides, then packaged for a long time you will notice that meat is a reddish copper color.
The Ramirez Pecan Farm is building its legacy in El Paso County; what began with Lupe Ramirez Sr. has now passed on to his children and includes the whole family and community. This is truly a place that welcomes their neighbors.
They have several festivals throughout the year that allow the public to enjoy the 10 acres of natural beauty; they even host weddings on the property.
And if that weren’t enough, families can pick their own pecans there at the farm (during season) or you can even bring pecans from your own yard and they will wash and shell for you.
I encourage all El Pasoans to support local and take some time to explore these beautiful treasures we have in our own backyard, like the Ramirez Pecan Farm in Clint. For more information, location and phone number, click here.