OUR FARMING PRACTICES
Our farming practices are centered around regenerative organic farming techniques that promote soil health and foster a thriving and dynamic farm ecosystem. We use holistic organic methods to control weeds and pests. Our insect management includes releasing beneficial insects, using organic botanical extract sprays, and working with cloth row covers that protect the vegetables from hungry pests. We weed our crops using tools such as hoes, handweeding, and small antique tractors.
We practice conservation tillage, using gentle tilling implements that don’t disturb soil structure for the majority of our bed preparation. Throughout the farm we promote a pollinator and wildlife friendly ecosystem in many ways, including planting flowers, hanging birdhouses along our fence line, planting cover crops, keeping tree habitat near fields, and most importantly connecting our work with the patterns of the animals and insects around us.
OUR SOIL HEALTH PROGRAM
Our robust soil health program serves as the foundation for all of the growing we do at the farm, making it possible for us to provide nutrient-dense vegetables to our community while caring for the land with a focus on sustainability and regenerative practices. Our extensive soil health practices have allowed us to improve our soil test results each year and to grow vegetables more productively, making it possible to widen the reach of the farm’s produce in our community.
One of the primary components of our soil health program is the use of cover crops during all four seasons to build soil structure, prevent erosion, return nutrients after crops are grown, and to promote beneficial earthworms and microbes. Cover crops are plants grown not for food but for the purposes of soil health. We use a wide variety of cover crops on the farm including nitrogen fixing legumes such as crimson clover, vetch and peas as well as grasses that provide organic matter such as oats and Sudan grass. We are also leaders in our region’s farm community regarding the innovative use of cover crops such as teff grass and winter wheat in the walkways between our crop beds to prevent erosion and weed growth.
Each year in the winter we take soil tests from all of our fields in order to have a detailed picture of what nutrients are needed for the following season’s crops. We use organic amendments such as kelp seaweed for potassium, gypsum for calcium, and alfalfa meal for nitrogen that help to provide the specific nutrients needed by different crops. For example, root vegetables like potatoes thrive when there is adequate potassium in the soil (in fact potatoes actually have more than twice the amount of potassium as bananas!) Therefore we spread organic granules of high potassium containing kelp seaweed on our fields in the spring before planting our potatoes. Techniques like these will allow us to continue to grow sustainably for many years to come.