We believe that as farmers it is our duty to grow food that is flavorful, nutrient-dense, and health promoting. We farm without using pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Instead we strive to create conditions in the soil that will help the plant achieve it's full potential, and be strong enough to resist pests and diseases. The "bad bugs" are doing their job when they go after sick plants to recycle their nutrients and stop them from reproducing.
Industrial agriculture treats the soil as an inert medium, something for the plant roots to hold on to. Nutrients are applied in the form of soluble fertilizers to feed the plant directly. Some of these nutrients are taken up by the plant roots but the majority leach out and create dead zones in lakes and oceans.
To us the soil is a complex, diverse ecosystem. We feed the soil to maintain and enhance a diverse, vibrant community of billions of organisms in the soil. Our plants get the majority of their nutrients from by-products of microbial activity or from direct symbiotic relationships.(Mycorrhizae, Rhizobium, Azotobacter etc.)
One source of food for the microbes are cover crops. We love growing cover crops focusing particularly on buckwheat which makes calcium and phosphorous more available to other plants, Austrian winter peas, Hairy vetch, and clovers which fix nitrogen, oats, sudangrass, winter rye and ryegrass which all hold onto nutrients so that they don't leach, feed the soil carbon and protect soil from erosion. In short, we don't like to keep the soil bare but rather have a cover on it year-round.
We rely on soil testing to determine what minerals to apply to the soil and in what quantities. Our soils are naturally abundant in potassium, magnesium, iron and manganese but low in calcium, phosphorous, boron, zinc, copper, and sulfur. To compensate for the lack of certain minerals we add ground limestone, soft rock phosphate, aragonite, gypsum, kelp, calcium borate, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate. During the growing season we supplement with fish emulsion and seaweed.
Our goal is not to produce food with the least amount of money but rather to invest in amendments and minerals that will aid the soil in growing the most nutrient-dense vegetables for the health of ourselves and our community. Part of the reason that we remain small-scale is that we believe focusing our love and attention on just a couple acres will allow us to be in tune with how each of our plants is doing and cater to their needs specifically.