We are a biodynamic farm that utilizes permaculture techniques and
forest stewardship council practices.
farming methods all work off the concept that a farm is
a site-specific ecosystem. Biodynamic farming is a holistic system
that places importance on all of a farm's elements: soil, water,
plants & animals. These methods rely heavily on soil building,
water conservation, composting, animal production and animal by-products.
Not all growers using biodynamic techniques adhere to the complete
biodynamics program. You can be certified, but you do not need to
be certified to be considered a biodynamic farm. |
techniques include a design system that creates a sustainable
food production environment. This environment begins with soil building,
uses specific site design with a focus of more perennial plants
less annuals, utilizes high density growing, companion planting
and compost production. These techniques encourage growing more
food in less space.
Stewardship Council Practices (FSC)
Encourages the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products;
Conserves biological diversity and its associated water resources,
soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes; Monitors
the condition of the forest & maintains the health of the
not certified organic, we follow natural, organic, sustainable farming
techniques and environmental designs that rely on all natural methods.
Some of the permaculture techniques we implement: high density
growing, composting, companion planting, weed
burning, and integrated pest management(IPM).
We follow forest stewardship council (FSC) practices
to maintain our farm's forest productivity and safe water. We drip irrigate
all of our crops which reduces plant stress, resulting in a decrease in
pest and disease problems as well as increasing the quality and size of
our crops. All of our irrigation needs are supplied by rain or our pond.
farm is surrounded mostly by cattle and hog farmers so harmful pesticides
that float from one farm to another is not an issue with our fresh product
production. When necessary, we apply the most environmentally and consumer
safe controls only when needed. We
remedies whenever we can, and the majority of our
crops are not sprayed at all. Our goal is to provide the freshest, highest
quality locally produced products possible.
density growing with our melons |
density growing is a technique that ignores traditional
spacing requirements for more concentrated spacing. This encourages
stronger plants to survive, weaker ones to die back. Thicker concentration
discourages weed growth. The result is more food produced in less
a technique borrowed from French fruit growers where orchard tree
branches are trained to grow flat against a wall, supported on a
lattice or a framework of stakes. This is done so more trees can
be installed in less space than traditionally required. We take
that to a new level with brambles allowing us to have a denser population
of canes per foot, allowing better lateral growth for easier picking,
resulting in a greater yield.
planting is an important part of integrated pest management.
Companion planting is a technique used to encourage desirable
pests or discourage undesirable pests by installing herbs and
flowers that either encourage or discourage. There are also plants
which when residing in the same proximity improve the quality
of one or both plants, like the age old old wives' tale to plant
borage with tomatoes and the tomatoes will taste better. They
do. And that's what we're all about - food that tastes as it should.
are many varieties of herbs and flowers that can be used for companion
plants. I use lemon balm, lavender, tansy and rosemary as companion
plants to the herb plants that are the most susceptible to pest
method we have found for massive and large weed eradication.
Mantis on raspberry leaves |
Pest Management(IPM) is an effective
and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies
on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM is not a single
pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations,
decisions and controls. Adams county is home to some of the most
bizarre insects we have ever seen, but the hardy standards are there
as well. We were excited to see a large quantity of praying mantis
take up resident in the raspberry field. We also have a huge quantity
of ladybugs present in the field, both orange and red species.
follow Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) practices to
keep our forest healthy. It is a large part of our farming operation as
we see what the forest produces as just as important as what we cultivate.
practices include monitoring our forest for disease,
rot, lightening strike or other natural occurrences that harm the trees
and undergrowth. We remove dead trees and trees that have been harmed
and could cause harm or danger to the healthy trees. We remove smaller
trees that can crowd or otherwise undermine healthy trees.
Trees inappropriately spaced can cause inosculation.
a natural phenomenon in which
two trees grow together.This often causes rot at the base.
Rot at the base of insuculated trees.
strikes often will kill a tree.
Tornadoes and wind shears can kill trees.
earth image of our farm.
Google earth image of our raspberry field.
farm was a small part of a large Adams County, Ohio farm that has been
owned by the same family for generations. The topography lends itself
to a variety of microclimates which provide a variety of natural and cultivated
products. We focus primarily on perennial plants, which include the raspberries,
blackberreies and most of our herbs are perennial. In addition, our land
produces wild mushrooms, hickory, sassafras, sumac, wild blackberries
and Ohio pawpaws.
we utilize approximately 1 acre of our 10 acres for raspberry production.
The field is a new field, never been tilled before. We accomplished this
by removing a band of invasive red cedars on the hill side. The field
is terraced and uphill from the pond. Our raspberry production is focused
on more production in less space. We are experimenting with a variety
of pruning techniques and with controlling the number of canes per foot
to determine if more and larger berries can be achieved with the varieties
we have selected. You can read more about our berry operation here.
herb gardens are scattered around the farm. In some places we
have 50 foot rows, other places we have large whimsical gardens
that herbs lend themselves to. Many of our medicinal herbs are
thriving in woodland gardens we have established.
have tried to introduce 2-3 large areas each year for more herb
production. Currently we are utilizing approximately 1/2 acre
for herb production. We experiment with taking multiple cuttings
of various herbs which allows for more vigorous growth and a larger
harvest in less space. You can read more about our culinary herb
production here and our medicinal herb
in 2013 we are introducing an orchard which will have plums, pears,
apples and blueberries. When we enlarged the pond, we cleared a
significant amount of frontage on the dam so where we grew mustard
in 2012, we're adding the orchard.
of our irrigation needs are supplied by rain or our pond. Our farm is
approximately 1 mile off the road away from "grid" services
such as electricity and water. This leads us on any number of alternative
pursuits and solutions other farmers might take for granted. When you
plan to install an acre of raspberries and an acre of herbs, not to mention
personal vegetable gardens and fruit trees, you have to think about irrigation
first. Currently, we draw 2500 gallons of water from our pond to irrigate
everything. This would not be possible without the clever engineering,
gravity and fluid dynamics we have become so fond of.
irrigation involves pumping water uphill, filling multiple tanks along
the way. To date we have nine 275 gallon tanks spread along our irrigation
path. Four "stations" and a base station each serving a different
station is at the edge of the pond where the water is drawn. Station one
is approximately 50 feet uphill where the pond water is filtered and sent
to the other stations. Station three, about 250 feet uphill. consists
of three tanks. One holding tank for water transfer to station four above
the raspberry field and two holding tanks for the drip systems down hill
in the herb gardens. The placement of the tanks was very important for
gravity to work. By placing the tanks higher on the slope than the gardens
to be irrigated, we have enough water pressure to run sprinklers as needed,
but more importantly, to need pressure reducing valves and heads for each
2010 and 2011 we were successful in being able to provide an inch of water
to the raspberries all season as well as being able to water all the herb
beds as often as we needed.
In 2012, because
of the drought and the planned increases in our crop production, we enlarged
our existing pond. On the average we draw 2500 gallons each time we irrigate.
We are not sure if it was good karma or good planning but the drought
in Adams county in 2012 was pretty severe and we were very glad we had
enlarged the pond!
Adams County is known for a huge population for whate tail deer,
raccoons and wild turkeys, all of which love berries. We knew we
were going to have to protect our harvests from these critters,
and made attempts which would work for a while and then not.
raspberry field is cut into a wooded area which we cleared and terraced
and is in the center of our woods. Our foes have been wandering
in these woods for years long before we came along, we saw their
tracks in the field as we progressed through from clearing to planting.
We just weren't sure how to keep them out.
talked with other farmers, no one had a good answer. It wasn't until
one of our neighbors told us how deer had eaten all of his very
large garden in one night leaving him with nothing that we realized
we needed to find an answer. Starr did some research and found an
interesting solution based in Science and tested true
first time we went to the local feed store owner to ask him for
parts we needed, he scratched his head and said "you want to
do what?". He really was a good sport and helped us immensely
with our crude drawings and almost baked solutions. We built a new
twist on the solar powered electric fence. As of fall 2011, not
one critter foot print in the fields, no deer, no turkeys, not even
Adams County is home to some of the prettiest birds and some of the largest.
Two in particular love to claim our raspberries, woodpeckers (Pileated
and Northern Flicker) and Blue Jays. Not graceful critters by any means,
they are pretty clumsy in claiming the berries, as they massively destroy
the growth around them. At one point another farmer had described his
disgust in dealing with raspberries asked us if we had had any bird damage.
We more or less said "What are you talking about?". Now we know:
2011 was the wettest and rainiest year on record in our area. As
our field is cut into a wooded slope and terraced, we experienced
a pretty awesome mudslide in the upper side of the field. We knew
eventually we'd have to deal with the issue, rain in 2011, forced
the issue. In two very condensed, very wet weeks weeks we installed
a 4 foot by 110ft retaining wall. Most of it done in pouring rain.
A French drain installed behind the wall in pea gravel.
2012 and into 2013 we experienced yet another very wet winter and
had to revisit the retaining wall project. We needed to install
an additional French drain 110' long and 18" deep in front
of the retaining wall to encourage yet more drainage from the hill
behind the raspberry field. The original drain worked, but water
still persisted in settling in the top row row of the field. With
new raspberry varieties scheduled at the end of April for that row,
this unplanned project became the immediate emergency at the end
of March 2013!
2014 we added new drainage to the raspberry field, this time in
terrace 1. Raspberries do not like to have their feet wet and the
clay in Adams county is constantly providing plenty of puddles!
Near the end of the raspberry season in 2013 we had significant
flooding in terrace 1 and lost a good number of raspberry canes
so we planned to install the drainage early in 2014.
in Spring rains 2011