A NEW RETURN TO OLD FARMING
Today, most large farms operate for yield. Whether it’s grain, livestock, or produce, the common goal is to increase production and ultimately grow enough to feed the world. In many cases this job has become less focused on the health of the crop and more on quantity, despite energy costs and acreage sizes. It turns out with close attention to each crop, a small farm can actually produce more food per acre than a large commodity farm.
At In Season, we've taken a close look at the specific needs of our community and local chefs. We've found that most grocery store produce has decreased in flavor and nutrition over the years. With attention on yield, mono-crop farms have neglected the needs of their soil, gradually lessening the natural development of nutrition and flavor in their food.
With this knowledge, our passion for vegetable farming has become largely focused on soil health, so we can provide locals with ingredients that not only taste amazing but offer the nourishment needed for a healthy diet.
At In Season, it’s important that we avoid disturbing our soil’s natural biology. To do this, we limit our tilling and rely on large tarps to help nature turn our fields over for us. This allows the return of organic matter to the soil through decayed roots, leaves, and microorganisms that feed beneficial bacteria and release nitrogen to the ground.
Animals are also essential on our farm as they graze, stomp, and fertilize our pasture while we constantly move them to new fields. This is nature's way of keeping our soil fertile and preparing for the next crop without depleting nutrients needed for healthy growth. In this rotating cycle, we also include a cover crop about once a year. Most cover crops are known to produce nitrogen (as much as 100 lbs per acre) while some are beneficial for their extensive root systems, which allow air into the soil and help break up any compacted areas. We usually plant these in the fall and let them stay through winter, protecting our fields from erosion or loss of top soil. This also helps us avoid any large, open soil areas that would release carbon into the air while killing off microbes, which are critical to maintaining plant and human health.
Without the use of tractors, large equipment, or the need to ship out of state, we are able to eliminate many energy and production costs, greatly reducing fossil fuel consumption. By shopping and eating local, we can all contribute to a more sustainable way of living. Not only does eating closer to home guarantee the freshest food available, it also helps secure our local food economy and create more jobs in our community. By supporting small farms, we can allow more focus to be on the quality and nutrition of our food instead of quantity and commodity.