9 Bean Rows CSA
Birch Point Farm
Peak Season CSA
Providence Organic Farm
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Home > Birch Point Farm > Growing Practices
Our goal is a thriving local food system and local economy, in which eaters know their farms and farmers and what it takes to produce food. We encourage CSA members to visit the farm and volunteer, ask questions, learn about the entire operation. We're not certified organic, but use all certifiable growing practices. Our current focus is on building soil health, farm infrastructure, and our CSA community.
We purchase the lion's share of the compost we use from Morgan Composting down in Sears, MI. Their "Dairy Doo" aged compost is the best we've found, and for the time being, the best way to get high quality organic matter and fertility into our soils. We also occasionally get loads of fresh manure and bedding from a neighbor, and add it to our own compost pile. Our own compost pile is composed mainly of vegetable scraps, chicken manure and bedding, and leaves. It's a relatively passive system, meaning we only turn it once in a while, and it takes 2-3 yrs to fully break down. Shrinking our dependence on outside resources is an ongoing goal, and we look forward to the day when we CAN generate enough compost on site for all our fertility needs. Eventually we might take on some livestock of our own, but for now we're bringing in the poop from off farm.
Occasionally if a crop, or a certain section of field or hoophouse, looks "hungry" we'll side dress the crops with alfalfa meal or fish emulsion to boost the short term nitrogen available to the plants. We continue to increase the long term, more stable fertility of the fields via compost application and incorporating cover crops, or green manures, like clovers, rye, buckwheat, oats, and peas.
Our transplants in our greenhouse are grown in a potting medium that we make ourselves from finished compost, peat, vermiculite, and kelp, ag lime, and bloodmeal. NO chemical fertilizers or wetting agents.
2015 will be our first year (fingers crossed!) cultivating with a tractor! Up to now, we've done 100% of the cultivating (hoeing, weeding) by hand. We've finally outgrown that system. If you've been to the farm, you've probably seen the old 1950's Farmall, a cultivating tractor previously owned by Jess's grandpa Jack Fiebing. It's been here for two years now, and we just haven't made time to get it into working order. But that's the plan this winter, now that we're increasing our scale. If we get it back up and running, we'll be cultivating with it this year-- look for one of us driving a tiny, rusty, offset tractor down the rows this summer! (volunteers: don't worry, there will always be plenty of hoeing and handweeding, too!)
John Hardy with purple Brussels sprouts. Fall 2014.