Sunshower Hill farm

Sunshower Hill Farm is a small family farm located in Yamhill County. When the Solmonssons originally purchased the land in 1999, it was primarily a cherry and walnut orchard. Today, it is a small family farm which grows cherries, raspberries, and various herbs for local tea consumption. Sunshower Hill farm provides a diverse selection of vegetables, herbs, and flowers which provides native bees with abundant forage.

Crops

Berries, cherries, various vegetables and herbs for tea

Farmers Markets/Retailers

Online farmers market, local chefs, and a multi-stakeholder co-op

Location

Newberg, Oregon

Established in

1999

Owned by

Jody and Ranee Solmonsson

Rows of various vegetables overlooking the city of Newberg.

Rows of various vegetables overlooking the city of Newberg.

WHAT ARE THEY DOING FOR BEES?

Sunshower Hill Farm is doing a lot to help native pollinator populations. In 2016 the farm was awarded a grant through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Bureau and the Yamhill County Soil and Water Conservation District to work on the farm’s habitat restoration. With this grant they have been able to plant native plants and trees which benefit both native bees, and also prevent soil erosion along a seasonal stream on their property.

Rows of raspberries backing up to the family’s horse barn.

Rows of raspberries backing up to the family’s horse barn.

The Solmonssons do not use pesticides or herbicides. They control pests by using small homemade traps and weeding using mechanical hand tools. They have also stopped tilling their land, which has brought in many new and beneficial insects. Ranee notes, “Since we are not tilling you begin to pay attention to the ground and ground nesting bees that I’ve never seen before. I’ve also begun seeing other wildlife including snakes. It’s really gotten me interested in the whole soil-food web.” Other beneficial practices they have worked on include planting flowers in between crops, intercropping, and increasing edges on their fields, which creates increased habitat for native bees. Increasing their habitat helps reduce stressors on pollinators.

A Yellow Face Bumble Bee ( Bombus vosnesenskii)  collecting nectar.

A Yellow Face Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) collecting nectar.

meet the farmers

Originally an elementary school math teacher, Ranee became increasingly involved at her farm over the past seven years until she finally left teaching in 2017. Upon moving to the farm in 1999, Ranee began learning about biodiversity, pollinators, and how/why it is important to plant flowers in vegetable rows. Ranee actively discusses these issues with a local farmer who she now considers her mentor, “We talk a lot about biodiversity and what flowers we can incorporate into our vegetable rows. It’s begun to open my eyes up to insects in general. I’ve started to pay a lot more attention, especially to the pollinators. I’m always interested in seeing those guys.” Ranee has also expanded her interest in pollinators by participating in the Xerces Society bumble bee surveys.  

Ranee Solmonsson

Ranee Solmonsson