Q. What organic farming methods do you use?
A. It is estimated that one tablespoon of soil has over a million hardworking soil critters in it, and these critters are responsible for feeding the plants that we grow. Our responsibility is to feed these soil microbes so they are able to function fully and provide our plants with the full spectrum of micro and macro nutrients. We “feed the soil so the soil feeds us.” We currently use the following methods of production:
-fertilizer: This year’s main source of soil food has come from a tilled under cover crop of alfalfa, also known as a green manure. While we will continue the use of green manures in the future, we have started a large manure compost pile that will be ready for use in the fall. The manure we are using comes from our goat herd which is grass fed and in the winter eats hay produced on the farm.
-soil mineralization: We use greensand, black earth humates, kelp meal, natural trace mineral salt, soft rock phosphate, Magnesium sulphate (epsom salt), Magnesium Potash Sulphur. We buy most of our soil amendments from BioAg in Wellesley. All of these minerals are found in their existing form in nature and are loaded with micro nutrients. They are all super soil builders that will give our vegetables a full nutrient spectrum. All carrots and tomatoes (etc.) may look the same, but we believe some are more nutritious than others!
-soil structure: some parts of our fields are heavy clay, so we till in some peat to loosen the soil and give it more body. Greensand also helps with this.
-mulch: we also mulch some beds by putting down a layer of grass clippings/hay around plants. This helps by preventing weed germination, slowing moisture loss, cooling soil and plant roots and by getting earthworms up to the surface to feed and consequently leave worm castings near plant roots. This is also a huge boost to the organic matter content of the soil, and another great soil builder.
-pest control: We use companion planting to confuse insect pests. An example of this is to plant onions beside carrots – the onion smell repels the carrot fly and the carrot smell repels the onion pests! We encourage beneficial insects, birds, frogs, toads and snakes to do our pest control for us by letting a diversity of native plants exist around our gardens to provide them some habitat.We use diatomaceous earth flour if slugs and catepillars are a problem. Sometimes a good ol’ crop tour and bug picking session is in order. Overall, we hope that as our soil health increases, plants are less stressed by natures dynamics and insect pests won’t bother us too much.
-weed management: we hoe them, pick them, flame weed them and add them to our compost. Weeds are actually helpful plants because many of them have a tap root and take up nutrients from a level of soil that many common vegetable plants can’t access. By adding them to our compost, we are adding another dose of micro nutrients to our soil.
Q. What’s the benefit of being a CSA member/Why would I want to become a CSA member?
A. CSA members are our priority. We ensure that each member will receive their share of vegetables each week. If we have fewer veggies one week, we’ll take less to the farmers market rather than cut down on CSA volume.
CSA members can enjoy the convenience of having their veggies ready and waiting for them on pick up day. They can avoid the farmers market rush on Saturday mornings! Plus you don’t have to worry about missing out on veggies that sell out faster.
CSA members and farmers have a unique relationship. Farmers can count on CSA members for dependable income and support. This helps the farmer plan and be able to maintain and improve the farm’s operations (giving you a better product and experience) instead of working off the farm just to make ends meet. CSA members can depend on the farmer to provide fresh, healthy food each week. This mutual commitment encourages and supports local, sustainable farming.
More Q and A to come shortly….