Thursday May 26, 2016
In honor of Mother Earth we’re focusing on sustainability, organic farming, and other ways we can help out our wonderful planet. We’ll be sharing how we do things on the farm, as well as tips to bring these techniques into your own home.
To us, sustainable farming means creating systems which ensure continued fertility, diversity, and vitality, benefiting humans, animals, plants, insects, fungi, and microbes for many years to come.
As we explore our sustainability ethic in the month to come, you can look forward to learning all about:
- Vermicomposting (that’s composting with worms!)
- Involving pollinators and other animals in agriculture
- Importance of supporting family organic farms
- The Laysan albatross sanctuary on our land
- How sustainability and organic practices impact food quality and nutrition
But before we get started, we wanted to share with you just a few of the many reasons sustainability, and organic farming in particular, matter so much to us.
Small Scale Farming
The world is moving more and more toward industrial food systems, meaning fewer larger farms growing larger yields of fewer crops with more pesticides and more herbicides.
Most big farms only grow one or two crops, most often heavily subsidized corn and/or soybeans. The market is flooded with cheap corn and soybeans, and then it’s the market’s job to figure out a use for them.
Unfortunately, there are some very heavy hidden costs that go with industrial farming:
- Edging out of small business farms and even medium-sized farms, putting farmers in debt
- Dilution of “organic” standards, increased difficulty in regulation
- Decreased diversity of plants, animals, and microbes
- Increased agricultural runoff, potentially harmful to the environment
- Increased consumption of processed foods, decreased nutrient intake
Later this month, we’ll discuss why it matters to the environment whether or not you know your farmer (even if you only know them online!)
Modern industrial agriculture places little emphasis on the long-term fertility of the soil, instead focusing on fertilizing intensively in the short term. Not only does this practice deplete the soil of nutrients over time, but it also causes runoff of toxic chemicals, decreased diversity, and the need to apply ever more fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides to keep nature at bay.
We see it as our responsibility as farmers to return as many nutrients to the soil as we can in the form of mulch, compost, worm castings and compost teas. Not only does this improve the nutritional content of the food we grow, but it also ensures the long-term ability of this land to stay productive over the years.
This is the big one — the looming problem that lurks behind all the symptoms. Climate change is having an impact in our lifetimes, with more and more superstorms, drought, rising sea levels, and species extinction happening all the time.
This will eventually have a dramatic impact on agriculture worldwide, as grasslands and plains dry up and erode into nothing and flooding covers farmland. It’s already having an impact in many parts of the world as farmlands that have been fertile for centuries dry up.
Even here in the United States, we’re starting to lose ground in the “fight” against nature. We’re using more and more pesticides and herbicides each year to stay ahead, we’re resorting to developing GMOs that can survive all kinds of strange new pests and blights, and we’re discovering that our processed diets cause a variety of diseases including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and so many more.
Being a small farmer in the face of these adversities is challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding. We’re extremely dedicated to sustainability on our farm, fighting to preserve our soil fertility, diversity of species, and even our profitability in the face of the ever-growing industrial agricultural system.
Hopefully you were inspired by our Earth Day posts last month! Everyone can make a difference, and to make a difference, we need everyone.
What are some of your best practices with regards to sustainability and protecting planet Earth? Let us know in the comments!