We grow for health, our own, plants, layer and meat birds, soil, our customers and the environment. We supply our community with fresh, safe food and an environmental stewardship second to none. That is our mission and always our goal.
Our farm uses integrated pest management techniques in order to cut down on the need for sprays. We plant trap crops, use floating row covers, rotate crops and chickens to keep the bug populations down. Sometimes it works and sometimes you get new pests like the brown marmarated stinkbug.
Soils need resting in order to restore nutrients both micro and macronutrients. We rest soils so that they naturally restore themselves. Of course, we plant cover crops, nitrogen rich grasses, and winter rye for its deep taproots. The taproot digs down deep into the soil thus adding tilth and tunnels for water to travel. We move the chickens on the fresh cover crop and they pretty much turn it back into dirt before taken off the land. We will move them off to the next resting soil then re-seed the area they just left. This takes planning and timing. In Maryland, you will not get a good stand of forage if you plant seed after November10th. It just does not have time to establish itself before the freeze sets.
Soil rotation also controls pests, viruses and bacteria’s. If you keep planting the same thing in the same area, trouble will find you. We take the concept a step further by letting the soil naturally recover with a little push from us. The combinations of the nitrogen and tilth grasses create a nice biomass. The chickens eating grasses, bugs, weed seeds and turning the soil, while leaving natural fertilizer expedites this recovery process. It takes about three years for soils to replenish the nutrients and minerals that are depleted by the food that was grown on the land. Some food is harder then others, sweet corn is one of the bigger drains on soil nutrients. Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder along with depleting micronutrients. We all know what happened in the dust bowl and crop rotation was developed as an answer. When we say soil rotation, we are talking about using a plot of land to grow fruits and vegetables, and then take it out of production for a period of time and plant cover crops as described above to rejuvenate.
We use as little spray as possible. I am not looking to grow perfect looking food. I am looking to grow healthy, fresh, safe, tasty food. We will never win any beauty contests because we grow for health not looks. Looks do not make you healthy but eating healthy makes, you feel good.
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