Simply put, we care about the environment that makes up our farmland – the soil, the water sources, bees, birds and more. Without a healthy environment we wouldn’t be able to produce nutrient dense produce. We take measures each season to ensure that we are taking care of our farmland while at the same time producing the best vegetables, fruit and cut flowers that we can. All of the seeds we use to grow our produce and cut flowers are 100% Non-GMO.
We follow the farming philosophy known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This means we use a variety of methods in order to reduce weeds and control fungus and insect pests – conventional, biorational and organic. Each year we try to improve our practices for the betterment of our environment. We never use any products that would endanger our ecosystem, nor do we apply sprays without regard. Being on a small scale, 20 acres to be exact, allows us to closely monitor pests and diseases present in our crops. This means we set up insect traps, we “scout” for pests by walking through the fields, and examine the foliage and fruit of the plants. From doing this we are able to determine if we need to spray or not, and we spray only when it is necessary.
Plastic mulch and drip irrigation are two of the products we use in nearly all of our crops. The plastic essentially forms a long raised bed that not only inhibits weed seed from germinating, it also holds in moisture and prevents soil erosion. Beneath the mulch is a flat tape that runs the length of the bed. It dispenses water directly to the roots of the plant, which allows for the most efficient form of water conservation. When crops are watered overhead it can cause the spread of foliar diseases, but with drip irrigation that risk is reduced if not completely eliminated. In between the rows of crops we place weed mat, a type of fabric material that acts as a barrier to deter weed seed germination. This technique also eliminates the need to cultivate which is better for the long-term health of the soil.
When you grow in healthy, nutrient dense soil, your plants are healthy and the food is healthy. We plant cover crops in the fall to replenish the organic matter and nutrient density of our fields. Some of the other benefits of cover cropping include the prevention of soil erosion and run-off, reduces soil compaction and more. There are many different types of cover crops, but we have had great success by using peas and oats. We also use make leaf compost from the leaves delivered each fall by the City of Keene.
We are always trying to improve our techniques and there is always something new to learn. Each year comes with its own challenges, but at the end of the day we want to make sure that we take care of our environment. Without taking care of the land continuing to grow on our land wouldn't be possible.