How We Farm
Our family’s goal is to produce more nutrient-dense food, using farming methods that honor our responsibility as followers of Christ- to be stewards of the land. We practice no-till, regenerative farming. We are not "certified organic" but adhere to organic standards (we like to say "more than organic" standards). Only natural fertilizers, only natural and safe pest control. Nothing that we wouldn't feed to our precious 2 and 3 year old. Nothing that would harm our precious soil life or beneficial insects. Our personal goal from the beginning of our farming career has been to find a way of farming that is not only "sustainable," but also regenerative- a way of farming that works with nature's ecological mechanisms. After many trials... and mostly errors, we now know exactly how not to farm! We have picked up many tips and tricks from other farmers who have joined the no-till movement, finally settling into a system that really works! We are very excited to watch our soil continue to heal, and turn back into the living organism it is supposed to be. On top of that, according to the Bionutrient Food Association, the increased microorganism activity that goes hand in hand with our no-till system allows the plants to take up more nutrients and produce more secondary metabolites (what makes vegetables healthy and taste good!). To find out more about no-till and bionutrient-dense food, visit the links at the bottom of the page.
If you are wondering how in the world we do leafy greens without loading them down with pesticides, that is a very good question! Our farming methods are very labor intensive and actually quite a bit more expensive than conventional pesticide methods. Of course, since we grow leafy, succulent plants, we do have a lot of insect activity. Our solution is lots and lots of (very expensive) bug netting! It is a lot of work uncovering and covering and putting up hoops on all our beds, but it is a labor of love.
We also use a lot of what we call "distraction crops." If we have a particularly pest-prone crop, we will grow it under netting as well as plant a distraction crop nearby. We choose our distraction crops based on what pest we are trying to lure away from our cash crops; for example, we will plant milk thistle throughout the tomato patch to lure away the stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs from the fruit, and we plant kale to lure away aphids and beetles from our baby greens. We then watch the distraction crops closely and harvest them before or just after any pest eggs hatch, to feed to our lucky chickens!
Another method we are continuing to work on is planting beneficial insect plants in permanent wind rows throughout our farm to give a home to many of the parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects that help keep down pest populations.
When we flip a bed (clean it up for re-planting), we are very careful not to kill our beneficial insects. We harvest any remaining plant debris and let the bed rest for a day or two before flame weeding, to allow any spiders or other insects to find a new home.
Our hope is that, without the use of pesticides, the ecosystems around our crops will reach some sort of equilibrium, the way they were first designed, and the beneficial insect populations will be able to build up so that we don't have any more major "pest" problems, only insects coexisting with us.