Our Farming Practices
Oh, how we wish we had time to relax under a tree like Huck Finn. In reality, though, we spend many enjoyable hours in the sun, and we practice sweat.
We do most of our planting, cultivating, and harvesting by hand (but some tasks require the use of a small tractor). We never use chemical fertilizer; we believe in feeding the soil with compost as a way to begin healing the land from overuse. Chemical fertilizer not only pollutes waterways, it is also responsible for mass microbe genocide which would otherwise aid plant growth. We practice the ideas of cover-cropping, crop rotation, and animal fertilization of our soils. We think the most sustainable farm means keeping all our inputs on the farm rather than buying from outside sources (but we’re still getting there). Rather than applying herbicides, you’ll constantly see us with a swan-neck hoe working the soil, or on our hands and knees hand-weeding the beds. We believe the best way to control pests and disease is to create optimal conditions for our plants. Instead of using pesticides to control pests, we practice companion planting, use of beneficial insects, and crop rotation. And hey, if those don’t work, you might not have cucumbers this year, but at least you’ll know you’re eating pure, chemical-free food. We would like to move away from city water in the future, and hopefully will be fortunate enough to add several ponds, so we can use rainwater to water our crops instead of treated city water.
We are constantly learning and growing (no pun intended) ourselves, and this land inspires us as well as teaches us new ways of gardening all the time. Our ecological methods are evolving. As of 2014, we have begun doing permanent mulch gardens in an effort to quickly build healthy soil – and it’s working! We have found that tilling our fragile soil makes it erode quickly and also kills the beneficial earthworms. We still use some tillage for direct seeding of fine seeds, but about 3/5 of our garden is in permanent mulch.
We believe that rotationally-grazed, 100% grass fed cows not only improve our soil, they could actually solve the problem of global warming by sequestering carbon in pastures. We move our cows daily and avoid antibiotics.
Animals that consume grain are fed Certified Non-GMO feed. (If you have a preference for feed, organic or otherwise, please talk to us! If the demand is high enough and prices are understood we’d love to switch.)
Our poultry range on pasture. They have the choice of shelter in a mobile house that follows them around the pasture in rotational gazing (poultry follow the cows, thereby controlling the fly populations). Chickens and turkeys feast on bugs and greens, creating a superior flavor in the meat as well as a golden color in the yolk of our eggs (high in beta-carotene!). They also feast on vegetable scraps. Turkey is available on an order-only basis for Thanksgiving.
Our pigs live partly on pasture and partly in the woods. They are a mix of several heritage breeds including Black Spot, Duroc, Red Wattle, and Berkshire.
We do not use growth hormones for any of our animals, and we avoid antibiotics. The only time we would consider using antibiotics is if an animal is suffering, which so far only happens rarely.
Bees! We’re also beginning beekeepers. We believe in a holistic approach to managing mites, and we hope our bees will stick around since pesticides aren’t on site. Let’s hope for honey!
HERBS & FLOWERS
We think herbs are powerful plants that have the capacity to repel pests, to provide explosive flavor in food and drink, and to help heal disease in humans and animals.
Flowers are grown on our property by Queen City Flower Farm to keep pollinators happy, provide a habitat to beneficial insects, and of course, for our own enjoyment. We carry bouquets at farmers markets in the summer months, and occasionally at CSA pick ups.
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