How do we decide HOW to grow your food?
We hope that the following explanation of how we make decisions about our practices is more meaningful and helpful than simply providing you a list of words that categorize our methods. Because we recognize that these decisions we make determine both the quality and the price of our products, we realize the importance of us sharing our thought process with you.
First, we would like to stress the importance of getting to know your farmer. Eating locally and knowing the individuals and families who grow your food can clear up much of the confusion we experience browsing all the "Natural," "Free Range," and "Fresh" items of the grocery aisles. Despite the tone of much of what we encounter on the internet, farming is not a world of good vs evil. There are no farmers out there who want to contaminate the waterways and destroy the planet. All of the farmers we have ever met simply wish to make a living improving their land and feeding their community. As we respect the intentions of our fellow farmers and acknowledge we all have our own perceptions of how to best improve our lands and our communities,
we are first and foremost pro-farmer.
Our main mission as farmers (and scientists) is 1) to better understand our natural and societal environments and 2) to feed our community with food produced with respect for these environments. For us, this means making decisions based on the following two guiding pillars:
Understanding and improving our local watersheds
Contributing to the resiliency of our local community.
As aquatic scientists by education, both Anna and I (Jake) have first hand experience observing the health of our watersheds. Anna studied sea turtle health in response to long line fishing as an undergrad and then later researched the effects of low oxygen levels on shrimp health as a grad student. Throughout my college and graduate educations, I assisted in research addressing nutrient cycling and chemical and microbial contamination in various aquatic environments. These reefs, estuaries and streams we studied were always downstream of agricultural land- we saw directly that our agricultural systems and our aquatic ecosystems are one and the same. Any chemical we apply to our agricultural land exists in an open system that includes the water we drink and the oceans we rely on. Considering this fact along with our observations as researchers, we choose to avoid using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides on our pastures, forests and crop land. As we grow alive and healthy soil, we expect our soil to incorporate nutrients where the plants can use them rather than allowing these chemicals to slip away to contaminate waters downstream.
Our second tenet goes hand in hand with the first. Just as we are invested in growing our soil, we are just as invested in growing our community. We understand that membership in a thriving local community is a basic human need. By being a part of these local communities, buying supplies and selling products locally, we know that we are contributing to developing a more resilient local economy.
We see the surrounding towns and counties as an extension of our farm. Mirroring efficient nutrient cycling in thriving soils on the farm, we see that a resilient community optimizes nutrient cycling at a societal level. This consideration drives our decision to farm using composts rather than imported chemicals. Growing composts allows us to breakdown surrounding waste streams (think manures and leaf mulches) to grow our fruits, vegetables and pastures.
When we have a decision to make about which feed to buy or which soil amendment to spray, we go back to these two defining points and ask ourselves,
Are we improving our local watersheds?
Are we contributing to the resiliency of our local community?
The answer isn't always clear, but reminding ourselves of these two questions at least guides us in a steady, meaningful direction.
But these are simply our perspectives- we readily acknowledge that we currently understand very little about the world around us and are always open to exploring ALL points of view, especially when these points of view question the very core of our practices. Whether you agree or disagree, think we're on point or just plain crazy, let us know what you're thinking.
We want to discuss your thoughts to better serve and to bring you the food that you believe in!