This past Sunday afternoon, we dragged ourselves off the couch for a drive through the countryside to Floyd to visit what we're now calling our "adopted farm." The owners of Riverstone Organic Farm, which provides our CSA each week, invited their shareholders out for a mid-season tour and potluck dinner and we happily obliged!
Riverstone is a young farm. 2011 was its first growing season and 2012 marked its first year of producing crops for CSA's and to sell at markets. Now they provide to over 50 shareholders, sell at multiple markets and even sell wholesale to various vendors! We learned that the farm used to be part of a poorly managed cattle ranch, and when it was bought by its current owners in 2010 it was simply a field of weeds.
|Views from the farm: newly planted crops, an extra large patch of sunchokes, a blonde raspberry and |
me posing in front of the tomato tunnel.
This tour was a great learning opportunity in the practices of a real farm that practices sustainable agriculture. I took notes. My husband laughed at my nerdy self scribbling away as we walked but, really, I don't remember things unless I write them down! Here's what I learned:
- The are 7 core crew members + part time workers that manage the farm daily
- The farm consists of 87 acres total, 14 of which are agricultural, cultivated fields and 25 which are pastures for cattle, chickens.
- Their biggest selling crop right now is rainbow chard. Sort of random if you ask me, but we've had some in our share on a few different occasions and it's yummy!
- The farm uses high tunnels instead of greenhouses. These are similar in shape and function but provide no electricity and no water supply. They can be moved via rails over three different plots to extend the growing season of their crops, control temperature and moisture with greater flexibility than a greenhouse.
|One of the three high tunnels on the property.|
- Cover crops are used to help restore organic matter throughout the farm (i.e. buckwheat). The fields are rotated with cover crops planted between those crops they wish to later cultivate. This works as a sort of homegrown fertilizing system.
- The farm features no "trap crops." A trap crop is a plot of crop that is used as a "sacrifice" for capturing and controlling harmful insects a (I.e. the Japanese beetle, which can destroy raspberry bushes).
- The farm currently features 60 chickens which produce approximately 50 eggs per day. Though I'm not currently eating eggs, the hubby is really enjoying his dozen per week that we get in our share!
|Kat, who gives us our share each week, poses with the chickens!|
Lastly, the tomatoes are currently being grown in a high tunnel with string to help propel them upward. The tunnels are specifically functioning to prevent over-watering (too much moisture means splitting tomatoes) and also to keep diseases out.
|Cherry tomatoes :)|
The tour ended just as the rain began to pour down. Perfect timing to head inside the barn and eat! A potluck dinner featuring a group of people who love quality, locally grown foods... you can imagine the dishes were pretty delicious!
|Photo by Riverstone Farm|
Ok, that concludes our farm tour! On a side note, between our CSA this week plus two different people giving us produce from their gardens, we are swimming in veggies right now! I froze some and made up meals for the week along with a few frozen meals for when I go out of the town. Next week I'm leading a cooking club at Joni & Friends Family Retreat (same one as last year) so I just plan on hauling a bunch of veggies up there to use (especially the zucchini and squash overload!)
|This week's share: New Potatoes, Summer Squash, Basil, Beets, Green Onions, Radicchio, Psychedelic Carrots and Kale! And of course, bread, coffee and eggs.|