While we primarily use organic production methods and inputs, our produce is not certified organic. We firmly believe it is the customer's right to know how their food is produced, and we aim to be as transparent as possible in describing our farming practices. Below is an overview of our current practices and farming philosophy.
Any organic farmer will tell you: healthy soils are the foundation of ecologically sustainable farming. Much of the soil on our farm is clay, and many places are prone to erosion. We have found it essential to prioritize cover cropping, reduced tillage and long crop rotations to maintain productivity in the long term. These practices in turn lead to improved plant health and greater nutrient availability. Generally speaking, healthy plants are better able to withstand pest and disease pressure, so it makes good sense to make soil health a priority.
When the bugs and pathogens make their arrival, we use Integrative Pest Management (IPM) to guide our decision making. IPM is a preventative approach to dealing with disease and pest problems through the use of beneficial insects, long crop rotations, cultural practices, pest exclusion through the use of row covers, and frequent scouting and monitoring of populations to quantify pest levels. Chemical intervention is employed as a last resort when a significant proportion of the crop could be lost.
With timely use of preventative techniques, the majority of our produce is grown without any chemical intervention. If we do find that further action is necessary, we opt for an organic-approved product. In the case that additional intervention is needed to save the crop, we opt for non-organic controls, selecting the safest option.
You might be wondering - if they go to the trouble of growing almost everything “organically” then why not get certified? Read on for crop-specific growing information that answers this question.
Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
Our raspberries and blueberries are grown using only organic practices and inputs.
To grow our strawberries we have to manage more risk than other crops, because their sales account for over a third of our yearly income. Though most years we don't need to use non-organic chemicals to control diseases and pests, it's important for us to have those controls available because of the potential for catastrophic financial loss. Our hope is that eventually we'll be diverse enough in our crop selection that we don't need conventional controls available as a last resort, but for now we must manage the risk of crop loss.
High Tunnel Crops - Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumbers
Our high tunnel crops (grown in soil, under the cover of a greenhouse) are grown using only organic sources of fertilizer and organic pest/disease control methods, but are not certifiable because the baseboards along the sides of the greenhouses are made of pressure-treated wood, which isn't allowed for organic certification.
Field Vegetables - Greens, Roots, Squash, Sweet Corn
As of 2023, all of our field vegetables are grown on certified organic ground located a few miles from the farm. The produce itself isn't certified because it is leased land.
Hopefully this summary makes our philosophy and decision making process more clear, and we are always happy to answer questions.