Preserving the environment and soil structure for future generations of farming.
OUR FARMING PRACTICES
We grow our produce with integrity knowing that we are doing everything we can to produce the highest quality, most nutritionally dense, & flavorful! fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs for our Members. I will go over some of our farming practices below.
Transparency and trust are both very important to our CSA, know your food & know your farmer!
We do not use herbicides. We weed by hand or weed with a hoe. This is a very important maintenance task in the field and is important to keeping good root structure in our plants. Even though we recognize how much time this takes to hoe an entire field, we feel that we are willing to put in the extra time because it is important to keep things as natural as possible for all of us.
Crop rotation is one of the most important sustainable farming techniques. Ben has a map of what produce was planted in which field, every season. With Crop Rotation we can plan our fields accordingly to help eliminate disease transfer while using the nutrients in the field strategically. Some varieties of produce and fruit use larger amounts of certain nutrients like Phosphorous, Nitrogen & Potassium than others so it is strategic to plant one variety (needing a higher nutrient quantity) after a previous variety was planted in the same location (that used less of that certain nutrient). Crop Rotation also helps deter pests, especially boring insects.
Black Mulch is laid down the entire length of the rows. Black mulch is beneficial because it warms up the soil increasing plant growth early in the spring; it can help insulate from late frosts, it reduces top soil drifting, and it keeps the weeds down which eliminates the need for product application. Black mulch is a common technique used by organic farms. We are not certified organic, but we will use sustainable farming methods whenever we can.
We use black mulch with a few varieties, a great example is the vining crops like melons. Watermelons send shoots out in every direction which makes it very difficult to use a hoe without damaging their vines. Using Black mulch eliminates the need for hoeing at all, and it gives the melons extra heat in the spring which results in more blooms and more melons! We also grow Sweet Potatoes on black mulch, because they are low and vining as well.
We use as many natural methods in our fields as possible, but the short answer is we would use a pesticide if we were at risk of losing a whole crop. The longer answer: Many people don’t know that there are organic pesticides, they are naturally occurring compounds that can be applied to plants eliminating the pest problem while not harming the produce. We use one Certified Organic pesticide but we are not Certified Organic (CO).
In the past, we also used a CO pesticide for broccoli worms. We figured out how to eliminate using that one too! We harvest the broccoli right away in the morning, and the put it in the produce wash tanks for a couple of hours; by the time we drain it the broccoli worms have drowned & are rinsed out with the water. I'm sure we can probably agree that using water instead of products (regardless of it's CO label) is a good thing.
We have many sustainable farming methods that support our mission to provide fresh vegetables fruits and herbs as naturally as possible to our CSA Members.
We use Drip Tape Irrigation instead of overhead watering systems because it conserves water and energy. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture declared this is the safest type of agricultural watering system for food safety.
Drip tape irrigation is a basically a thin plastic hose that runs the length of the rows, it has small pin-prick holes every 6 inches and waters the plants slowly allowing more water to go to the roots, also reducing run-off.
Another perk to drip tape is that the water doesn’t reach the middle of the rows where weeds like to grow. That allows for more time between hoeings of those fields because the weeds don’t grow as fast if they aren’t watered.
Drip tape does not cause damage to the plants like traditional overhead watering systems. Overhead watering systems spray water evenly across the entire field. If water is on the plant’s foliage during the heat of the day it can cause damage and ultimately lead to disease of the plants which would reduce the harvest success.
We host Honeycomb Acres here at our homestead in Oak Park. Owned & operated by Mike & Julie Brown, they have a few locations in the metro area where they keep bees.
They had 6 colonies on the edge of our field during the 2020 season. Local pollinators are so important to our natural ecosystem. From the produce we grow here on the farm to the native plants the honey bee population helps everyone!
We just moved here in 2020, so prior to now when we were renting property to farm we always had them with us at those other locations too.
If you are a part of our CSA program, you can purchase a selection of Honey Share options on the website available here.