LETTING NATURE DO THE WORK.
Our approach to soil care can be summarized in the following 4 principles.
Plants draw in carbon from the air and absorb energy from the sun, which they convert into sugars feeding the microbes and fungi that live in the soil. In exchange, the microbes provide vital nutrients which aid in growing healthy, resilient plants. To maximize photosynthesis, we try to consistently have living plants in the ground. When we harvest a bed of carrots, we will immediately replant that bed with a new crop, like salad greens. This allows us to grow more food on less land and to continually feed the soil.
Healthy ecosystems are ones in which there is a diversity of living things that form symbiotic connections with one another. We view our farm as just another part of our local ecosystem. In addition to growing a diverse array of vegetable crops we also grow over 100 varieties of flowers. Pollinator insects, birds, snakes and frogs are some of the wild creatures we see making their homes out in the field.
Soil Organic Matter
Increasing soil organic matter is essential to the health of our farm. Organic matter is decomposed material from living plants and animals. In the soil, it provides nutrients to our vegetables and flowers, improves the soil’s resilience to too much or too little water, and creates the home of soil organisms. Globally, soil organic matter has been severely degraded. This has resulted in erosion, nutrient leaching, and water evaporation. Climate change is accelerating the impact of these problems.
Minimal Soil Disturbance
All of the hard work supporting life in the soil can quickly be undone by the mechanical cultivation of a rototiller. By mixing and inverting soil layers, a rototiller destroys the connections that were made between plant roots, microbes and fungi, while also exposing the soil organic matter (carbon) to the oxygen in the air, producing carbon dioxide. On our farm, we aim to disturb our soil as little as possible. This method is known as no-till farming. Some examples of no-till that we utilize include: use of compost as a mulch, cutting out or scuffle-hoeing plant residues, and silage tarping (in photo) to terminate crops & prepare beds for the next planting.