The goals of sustainable agriculture are to preserve and protect natural resources, meet the food and fuel needs of a community, and be financially viable for both growers and consumers. If one of these legs is out of proportion, the system will be out of balance and it will collapse. We try to regularly evaluate the well being of each of these aspects of our farm in order to continually improve and strive for greater sustainability.
Ideally, we’d like to not just sustain the land but be regenerating the soil…making it better through our interactions while growing food for the community.
Habitat for Bees 🐝 and Beneficial Insects 🐞
Native bees and other beneficial insects find habitat for food and shelter throughout the seasons on our flowering cover crops, herbs that are allowed to flower, and purposely planted annual flowers that add additional beauty to the farm for us all to enjoy.
Working with Animals and Nature
Through observation of how certain species naturally behave, we have chosen to pair systems on the farm that are mutually beneficial. One example of this system is how we raise our laying hens on a three season rotating pasture where there is also an orchard, a pasture, and an asparagus patch. The hens fertilize the land while eating bugs, getting exercise in the sunshine, and having some dirt to bathe in. Pests in asparagus patch are lessened, dropped fruit from fruit trees is quickly consumed, and the soil is not barren throughout the chicken yard as areas are rested. This system has proven to be a win:win for all over the last several years.
Another example of a mutually beneficial system is with our pastured raised hogs. The hogs browse on a cover cropped portion of the garden along with their grain ration, plow under the cover crop, and spread fertilizer throughout their plot as their shade shelter is regularly moved. The cover crop provides a habitat for beneficial insects and adds to the organic matter of the soil when turned under. The following season, sweet corn is grown in the garden plot where the pigs had been in as the nitrogen loving crop does particularly well in this rotation.
Keeping It Green
Often times as a business grows, more resources are consumed in order to meet the needs of customers and increased productivity. One way we have focused on “keeping it green” is by building a composting outhouse for our customers to use. Instead of creating a waste product and expense, we’ve chosen to properly compost waste for 2 years which is later applied to hay fields.