Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to take a look at the three major “types” of farming: Sustainable, Conventional and Organic. I want to try and define each type for you, and let you decide which is best for your family.
We want to give you the Pro’s and Con’s for each type, and why we chose to grow our garden the way we do (I actually think we are Hybrid farm, taking the best of each and using our land to the best of our ability). I’ll tell you up front, there are some things I agree with in each form of farming, and some things I, personally, cannot allow myself to do.
In this first episode, we are going to take a look at Sustainable Farming.
While Sustainable Farming does still involve pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, they are used in moderation, and within reason of harvest. No farm can truly get away from pesticides and herbicides with these ingredients. while Sustainable farming often look for alternative pest control, such as habitat manipulation, biological control, and use of pest-resistant plant varieties. There are time that chemicals are used. The difference comes in the amount of chemicals used and when.
Even we have to use pesticides, I’ll be dang if I’m going to stand in my garden 24/7 to pick bugs off the plants as soon as they land! ?But, I’m not going to let them destroy my crops either. And the same goes with herbicides. I can’t protect my plants from disease. I can hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Worst case scenario, getting rid of infected plants before the infection can spread to the healthier plants. While we are learning more about companion planting and pest-resistant varieties, we do what we have to in order to protect our crops.
Sustainable farms will not over-produce their livestock, be it cattle, chicken or lambs. They understand that natural grazing is the best way to raise their livestock, leaving the antibiotics and shots for the animals really need them. Not just to boost growth and lower the time the animal is with them. Sustainable farming also understands that animal waste is an excellent fertilizer, and will use this by-product to help in the garden. Reducing the need for chemicals that encourage growth of their crops. Natural is best. While there may be times when we need to help these by-products lower or increase a soil fossil, it is still the best way to go. We personally use horse manure, kitchen waste from the garden, and lawn trimmings, and other components in our fertilizer.
We also don’t keep more livestock then we need. We don’t have more chickens then we can harvest the eggs from. And at this point we aren’t raising chickens for the freezer (yet). Now, I will admit we have a couple of extra horses. But that does not mean they don’t get used. And we have not breed any of our mares to add to the over-population since the shutdown of the slaughter houses (another topic all together).
Sustainable farms are conservationists. From the use of the land with no till or low tillage gardens, water conservation, natural fertilizers. Using raised beds when applicable, container planting, re-purpose of rain water, crop rotation. All these procedures help to keep the land fertile and conserve our natural resources. More and more sustainable farms are using wind power, water power, and solar power, and are cutting down on their Green footprint.
While we don’t have the resources to use wind or water to help power our small operation, we do have plans to set up a rain barrel and use that to run irrigation to our garden. We also use the sun already to help grow our crops. While we would like to implement more natural resources into our operation, this will have to wait until we can afford it. There are programs out there to help us, and as we dig into them, we will find the right one to help us expand and grow.
Transportation and Economical Impact:
Sustainable farms also keep the money local. From selling at the local farmers market, and in local stores, restaurants and other venues (hospitals, schools, rural communities and other places). They also hire local workers, buy from local suppliers, and give back to the community.
Find out more about Sustainable farming by visiting your local farmers market. Our Greene County Farmers Market is open every Saturday starting at 8:00 a.m. and every Wednesday at 3 PM, from April 16th through October 30th