Growing gourds to shelter birds in a sanctuary
Ron Templemire and his son Aaron discovered that the perfect home for purple martins—large, blue-back swallows—are inside a gourd, specifically an African wine kettle gourd. The Templemire family farm is a one-acre property turned bird sanctuary in Missouri. They grow the gourds themselves and sell them at the Columbia Farmers Market on weekends or by word of mouth. Purple martins, the largest member of the swallow family, are very particular about their housing and depend on humans for survival. Templemire sells the 50- to 60-pound gourds for $20 each and paints them white to reflect the heat. “If it’s dark, it’s like an oven. You don’t want that to happen because you don’t want the babies to die or jump out prematurely.” The Columbia Missourian reports on this practice.