We are working toward a permaculture ecosystem, using natural partnerships to make plants flourish. In addition to our living, growing, grazing and timberlot areas, our farm plan includes ten percent of the land set aside for nature to take over. We are trying to encourage native plants, birds and animals to stay.
Water conservation is a major driver in our operation, and it affects almost every aspect of farm life.
Fruits and Vegetables
We grow sustainably, and use vermicompost, goat, chicken and sheep manure as well as vegetable compost to enrich our soil. Sometimes we mix purchased ingredients to make organic fertilizers. We use no pesticides.
We conserve water in the garden by mulching heavily, using compost and utilizing drip irrigation where possible. We also grow intensively with the plantings close together, which keeps us from having to waste water on paths and in between rows when overhead irrigation is used. We are currently designing a rainwater collection system to gravity feed collected rainwater from our barn to the garden.
We are organic beekeepers, using no pesticides in our hives. This takes a tremendous amount of work in order to keep the hives healthy, but we feel that it's worth it. In return, the bees pollinate our crops and clover and supply us with honey. One out of every three mouthfuls of food that Americans eat is due to bee pollination. Because bee populations are declining, we feel a need to support this important part of our ecosystem.
Our chickens are free range and allowed to dust-bathe (to control mites), forage for worms, grubs and insects (for protein), and graze for greens. Their favorite green is clover. Allowing them to do “chicken things” ensures happier, healthier chickens and richer eggs.
Sheep and Goats
Our sheep and goats are all free range (some a little too free, as shown in the pictures above). They are medicated only when needed, and all efforts are made to give them the best life possible. We even use the grazing animals to mow the lawn in the summer. This gives them fresh forage, keeps us from having to mow, and spreads fertilizer evenly; this makes all of the residents on the farm happy.
We use rotational grazing, which keeps the soil and animals healthy. We are careful to test the soil and add appropriate amendments to make sure the forage is healthy so that the soil doesn't erode. We also use swales and berms to keep runoff from eroding soils. Our goal is to keep every drop of water that enters our farm, on the farm.
“I usually don't bring much of your produce home because I just eat it raw before I get back.” --Silica L