Ecological Ecosystems at Work
Each farm is a unique ecological niche with individual needs. We believe that by working with the land we have, we can utilize its unique ecological features to maximize production while protecting the soil, waters, and air that nurtures us.
That being said, here are some of our strategies, as ever, if you have any specific questions, please contact us.
Earth We are growing in a flood plane field that is Belgrade silt loam. This is a virtually rock-free soil that has very high water and nutrient-retention. We use compost to aid nutrients to our soil, most of which we make ourselves out of horse and chicken manure and vegetable culls, and from a neighboring dairy farm. We mainly use hand tools and small tractor for secondary tillage an cultivation which decreases compaction. We integrate cover crops into our rotation and sneak them in wherever we can to boost organic matter and maintain topsoil retention.
Water When we need to irrigate, we use a gas-powered pump to siphon water from the River. Since we are using river water, we feel very strongly about protecting the health of our waterways. We belong to the recently formed Connecticut River Farmers' Watershed Alliance to help make proactive moves to help farmers and ecosystems thrive.
Seeds Much of what we grow is heirloom or saved seeds. Some of what we grow are hybrid varieties, which are bred through traditional means. Seeds are a passion of ours and we always try to get those best suited to our environment and the most nutritious and delicious varieties available. We're always looking for new varieties that thrive in our environment.
Cultivation and Care Being situated on the river means that we have a perpetual gentle breeze, which serves to cut down insect activity (natural pesticide, you could say). We use cultural barriers for bugs when we have them: things like crop rotation and floating row covers. The river bank also means that we act as a super-highway for lots of avian and mammalian neighbors. This is great for biodiversity, but can also mean some crop loss - a small sacrifice for a great reward.
Using the right tools for the job keeps things efficient and environmentally friendly. Sometimes innovation can mean looking forward by looking back.
By using smaller, time-tested tools in modern farming systems, more food can be grown on less space. Growing intensively and interplanting different crops in the same spaces maximizes productivity and also nurtures the soil by utilizing complementary soil-plant interactions to create a vibrant ecosystem.
Now, the main power on the farm is a small 1949 Allis Chalmers G tractor. It can perform all the field work necessary. In the future, there's a possibility of converting the G to solar-battery power. Stay tuned!
Draft animal power has been used in the past. Horses and oxen are viable options for small scale agriculture and it's the dream to one day use them again on this farm.
Chickens travel around the farm on their mobile coop. They spend their days eating grass, bugs, vegetable culls and a little bit of Poulin layer pellet.