While we are not certified organic, we integrate ecology into every aspect of the farm and follow organic standards.
We use reduced tillage, pollinator habitat, and natural pest management to rehabilitate our farm ecosystem. We say NO to GMOs, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and artificial fertilizers. To achieve the nutrient and carbon cycling that are at the core of this approach, we source biological soil amendments, make our own compost, plant cover crops, and apply copious amounts of straw and wood mulch.
We are serious about supporting our regional food producers, right down to the salt and the sorghum!
As the farm has grown, we have implemented the use of tractors to allow us to grow lush, deep-rooted cover crops and incorporate the residue in the soil to feed the soil life and provide nutrients for the next crop.
We still employ minimal tillage and have tools such as the power harrow, which allows us to create a fine seedbed for direct-seeded crops without disturbing the soil horizons or creating a hardpan.
Use of silage tarps to kill weeds allows us to go from one crop to the next without tilling at all.
In 2022 we began growing corn and wheat in rotation with our vegetable fields, allowing us to build the soil and provide rest from nutrient-intensive vegetables.
Within our vegetable plots, we always rotate our crops by family so that the same thing does not grow in the same place in succession.
This naturally breaks pest and disease life cycles and keeps plant nutrients in balance, which in turn reduces our dependence on off-farm inputs.
We test our soil every year to ensure that we do not apply amendments and fertilizers unnecessarily.
We get advice from soil experts who understand soil biology and chemistry. The amendments we use are all approved for organic growing (OMRI), although we have not gone through the certification process.
We manage our soil as an ecosystem and foster microbial communities from seed to harvest.
Our primary methods of pest control are preventative, such row covers to keep the plants protected and separation by space and time through careful planning and crop rotation.
When necessary to save a crop from failure, we do make targeted use of products that are approved for organic growing (OMRI).
This includes kaolin clay, neem oil, and Bt, all of which are naturally occurring and fit for human consumption.
We never use any herbicides in the garden or fields.
All weed control is done mechanically, either by a hoe or tine weeder, flame weeder, smothering with tarps, organic or fabric mulch, and tillage.
We are able to grow all year round thanks to our high tunnels, or unheated greenhouses, which passively heat the soil enough to keep them growing all winter!
We are limited in our access to water, so we prioritize water conservation to keep our plants healthy. This includes adding organic matter and mulching the plants to hold in moisture.
We grow on contour with the land and have built swales into our hillside to catch and slow rainwater.