What Exactly is Organic?
(Paraphrased from Pro-Cert, our certifying body)
- Respecting the environment by decreasing erosion of the soil, decreasing pollution and promoting a healthy and productive environment.
- Keeping the soil healthy and nutrient rich to generate healthy plants.
- Protecting biological diversity on the farm.
- Minimizing waste and encouraging good stewardship of resources.
- For livestock (we currently have none) respecting the needs of the animals for optimum health.
- Handling the product in such a way that the integrity and natural vitality are preserved.
- Utilizing local and renewable resources.
How Do We Accomplish These Goals?
Crop Rotation: An ancient practice, useful for building up the soil and keeping diseases and pests at bay, this is faciliated nicely by the wide diversity of plants we grow. It is as simple as choosing to vary the crop that is planted in a given field season by season. Some plants leave behind nutrients useful to other plants and we take advantage of this wherever we can.
Cover Cropping: Useful for preventing erosion (which occurs on bare land), keeping weeds down and building certain nutrients into the soil, we use crops like rye and hay to prepare the soil in some fields. Then, the cover crop is incorporated into the soil and the new vegetable crop is planted.
Companion Planting: Just like with people, some plants just “click”, and help provide the ideal growing conditions for each other. This is a great strategy for reducing pests, as some plants are repellents to certain bugs.
Composting: With our own green vegetation, hay clippings and chicken manure from a local farmer, we create a nutrient-rich blend of compost. This is one of the key ways we enrich the soil to produce healthy plants and an excellent way for us to recycle our “past their prime” or damaged veggies, resulting in less waste.
Greenhouses: Because of greenhouses, we are able to offer a greater variety of vegetables much sooner in the year, meaning less use of imported products for our customers. While it is not economical for us to produce right through the year, we come close with producing leafy greens like baby bok choy and kale until December, and seeding leafy greens as early as mid-February. Greenhouses make nice incubators for more sensitive young plants, so most things that end up in the field are started in the greenhouse in trays. Some crops are also brought to completion in the greenhouses if they can tolerate the sun exposure and heat.
Large Cooling Facility: Again, our cooling facility, about the size of an average house, allows certain items to be available even in winter months such as carrots, beets and turnips. The cooler is kept to a low temperature to maximize their already long shelf life and keep them crisp. Produce is cooled after harvesting by cool water or ice where possible and placed in the cooler right away to keep it fresh.