Report From the Fields
First off, happy belated Strawberry Full Moon and Solstice! It is always a bit of a mind trip to consider that the days only grow shorter from here on out until we hit the Winter Solstice. I always feel Summer Solstice should arrive sometime mid-July, June just feels... too early. Though, this farmer must admit, I look forward to the day the chickens go to bed earlier. After some of these long days in the field, its hard not to pass out pre-sunset, and our chickens push it until the very last ray of light has fled the field.
If there is one word that sums up organic farming in June, it's weeds. At times, it feels like there are little imps that come out at night and scatter weeds while casting spells of fertility. They grow soooo much faster than the crops we seed and nurture. But hey, pulling and hoeing weeds in the heat of the sun helps us to develop those killer farmer tans. And in many ways, weeds are Mother Natures cover crops. Bare soil leads to many problems, as we have discovered in this country due to our at times misguided agricultural practices. When we look to nature, we see that she has a whole host of plant allies that move in whenever bare soil surfaces. We feel there is a lesson here, hiding amongst the weeds as it were.
Many of the crops are coming along quite well, a few have had some mystifying germination failures (meaning the seeds simply didn't sprout), but we have gotten them re-seeded and all seems to be moving ahead at a good clip. The next big stage entrance will be Broccoli next week, followed by cabbage soon thereafter. The beets and carrots are working hard, but are still a couple weeks off.
A Growing Philosophy...
We thought it would be a good idea to dive further into our growing philosophy as farmers. As we continue through the season, we will add to this a more detailed explanation of the vision for the farm. This will eventually be developed into a separate web page on our website, but for now these few words can help to paint the picture of who we are, and who you are supporting by becoming a member of the farm.
Summing up a farmer's growing philosophy can be a gangly affair, as it encompasses nature, a farmer's worldview, a business model and you, the customer. All of these elements intertwine and guide farmers in their approach to working the land. For Fresh Starts Farm, our basic underlying philosophy is fed by the wellsprings of ecological agriculture, permaculture, biodynamics and nutrient dense food production. Notice we did not list organic separately, because that agricultural approach lies at the heart of all of these growing philosophies.
This farmer personally likes the perspective of biodymanics that views the farm as a living system that seeks to nourish and maintain itself. To that end, we see soils, water, woodlands, field, livestock, and wildlife as a dance of life we must respect, understand, and guide through wise management practices. While at the same time, we are also growing a business (literally from the ground up!), and that means balancing our ideals with the needs to create a sustainable business model.
In many ways it does all begin with the soil, truth be told. For a living soil forms the basis of a healthy farm, a nutrient dense product, and a vibrant consumer. A living soil is one in which we are increasing organic matter in the soil (aka.. sequestering carbon), which forms the foundation for the micro-organisms that are key in keeping nutrients circulating in soil. Just like all those gut bacteria allow our bodies to breakdown the food we eat and extract nutrients from from it, so too do the micro-organisms in the soil perform a very similar function. But in this case, it is the plants that benefit from the bio-available byproducts. A healthy soil leads to healthier plants, less bothered by disease and pests, just as you are when you (and your immune system) get all the minerals and nutrients you need. .
To summarize and conclude (as I could wax poetic for many long pages on this topic), our approach to farming is to see the farm as an ecosystem which we have the profound privilege and responsibility to manage towards the benefit of all.
Now... onto the main course!