Our USDA Organic certification is through Ohio Ecological Farming and Food Alliance.
Even though many products are approved for use for pest control we don’t use them. We prefer to work with the natural predators of pests and disease.
We have a few gardens spread out on the farm. Each one is treated a little differently. In some we use raised beds which are about 6 inches off the ground and are mulched with grass or straw to add organic matter, to hold moisture in and to help control the weeds. We irrigate from our fresh water spring fed pond through a drip tape system. This system places one drop of water every foot every few seconds. With this system there is no runoff and the soil is kept moist for the plants.
We do not use plastic to control weeds. Although between our raised bed rows we use cardboard and we cover it with mulch. Sometimes we cultivate.
We save our potato seed from year to year and we are beginning to use seed saving techniques on other crops as well. Our potatoes are one of our main crops. We plant them with a 120 year old planter that Dale restored, we hill the potatoes, cultivate them and hand weed them. The common pesticides approved for organic use on potatoes is Rotenone and Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum has been found to be absorbed by the plant and also kills the natural predators so we do not use them. Instead we walk the field’s daily removing the Colorado Potato Beatle. This method is more labor intensive although guarantees that our potatoes are 100% pesticide free.
We start all of our own transplants and we use mixes that Morgan Composting in Sears Michigan makes. We also mix some of our own. We make soil blocks for the plants. Soil blocks hold their own shape and don’t require plastic pots. We use floating row covers early in the spring to protect our plants from the cold and to protect against insect pests. We use traps to help control many pests.
We have chickens. They are placed in chicken tractors which are movable pens without a bottom. The chickens get fresh grass daily without the threat of hawks wanting to make a tasty supper out of them and the eggs are easily found in the nesting boxes in the movable pens. The eggs are gathered twice each day and refrigerated immediately. The supplemental feed given to the chickens is organic.
We have cattle. The cattle are pastured. There are fenced in fields, fenced in pathways with gates and watering holes throughout the farm. Throughout the summer the cattle move from pasture to pasture, grazing and drinking to their hearts content. In the late fall they are brought up to a small pasture by the house where we can watch them and water them. We feed the young animals hay from our very own fields during the winter, late fall and early spring when pasture is limited or non existent. We do not feed them grain. In the fall when they are about 18 months old we ship them to slaughter.