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Race to the Start

The holidays have come and gone and, after a very successful 2017, where we saw production increase to over 80,000 pounds, we now reflect and set a course for our next season. Winter is the season for planning. How do we achieve these results again or, better yet, how do we continue to grow more food, engage with volunteers, and better steward our land?

Over the past four years, we have invested deeply in our soil, testing and amending it for very specific deficiencies. We put down a lot of potassium and sulfur and focus on minute amounts of trace minerals, such as boron and manganese. Our goal is to get the proper balance of 25 different minerals in the soil, to grow a healthier plant, and to ultimately harvest a more nutrient-rich product.

Last year we made a successful transition to a no-till management strategy. This included the creation of more than 400 permanent raised beds throughout the farm. We understood that switching to no-till will help the soil and its life forms or its biology. That’s great, but what does that mean, exactly?

Farming here in New England, we are blessed with our lovely winters—my new favorite season, just don’t ask me about it during any other season. We have time to pour through seed catalogues, read Wendell Berry by the fire, and with our new technologies watch soil biology lectures on YouTube, and take master market garden courses online.

So, taking what we are learning from this winter, we will add another layer to this soil fertility program. And if you are interested, come out to the farm this year to volunteer or just to have a chat, where we can talk about and look at soil bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. It’s all in the interest of trying to better understand what’s happening down there and how important those interactions are above the soil, as well.