We believe in a bottom-up approach to agriculture and work to keep our soils healthy for the sake of the land and what we grow here. Our practices help our soils hold nutrients and build healthy biology, resulting in resilient and nutritious vegetables.
We use cover crops to manage the parts of our growing area that are not in production in a given season rather than leave them fallow. We cover crop with a mix of grasses and legumes which establish deep & intricate root systems that prevent erosion and the leaching of soil nutrients into waterways. Above soil, it attracts pollinators and provides habitat for other wildlife and beneficial insects. As we farm along a coastal river, it is critical that the minerals so necessary to the production of healthy plants, yet so destructive to aquatic ecosystems in concentration, stay locked in our soils. Cover crops are a great way to recycle nutrients that might otherwise leach into the river.
When plants uptake nutrients into their structure, they get locked in place until the cover crop is turned back into the soil and breaks down, releasing the nutrients and making them available again to other plants. The legumes in our mix fix atmospheric nitrogen (a critical plant nutrient) in their roots, which becomes usable by plants in the same way, reducing the amount of nitrogen we have to amend with the following season. A living amendment or “green manure.”
We manage our cover crops, small herd of goats, and annual vegetables in a holistic, rotational system that mimics natural ecological relationships. Over the course of the season, we move the goats around on the cover cropped fields using portable electric fencing.
They eat the cover crop down before it drops seed, which keeps us from having to mow the fields more than once prior to bed preparation and planting. This provides our goats with a highly nutritious source of energy and minimizes the impact of heavy machinery on the land.
In addition to this system, we amend our soils annually for optimal fertility accounting for the nutrients extracted by the previous year’s crops. We take soil tests to identify specific nutrient deficiencies and apply a mixture of slow-release, OMRI approved mineral and organic fertilizers to create the healthiest growing conditions for the most nutritious food possible.
We also interplant our row crops with French Marigolds and flowering tea herbs to attract bees and beneficial insects.