We strive for Organic farming at its finest. We are USDA Certified!
We begin with seedlings grown under grow lights in our greenhouse. The greenhouse allows us an earlier start on the season as we seek out organic seeds and heirloom varieties.
We plant our summer veggies on a field with plastic rows that keep down weed pressure, warms the spring soil and allows for drip irrigation.
We can respond to drought using water from our own well.
We have our own bees for pollination of vegetables and berries and hope to sell our own honey in the future. We build our soil's fertility each season by using a combination of crop rotation, cover crops, trap crops, mulching and composting. Examples of cover crops include buckwheat, oats and clover during summer, and rye with hairy vetch during Fall and Spring. The rye and buckwheat are "allelopathic", which means that they crowd out and kill weeds. Our bees love the buckwheat, as do other beneficial insects like praying mantis', "writing" spiders, and ladybugs. The clover is a legume that fixes nitrogen from the air into the soil using microbes on its root nodules.
We do not use any man-made synthetic fertilizers like 10-10-10. This is because studies have shown that these fertilizers kill beneficial microbes including mycobacteria, algae, and yeast organisms that live in the soil. When organic farming principles are used, the soil fertility increases in part because of the very rich, dynamic and diverse variety of microbes that live in the soil.
We use fully decomposed horse bedding compost that we buy in truckload quantities from Victory Haven thoroughbred horse farm. We fill the beds in our greenhouse with this rich bedding which is high in organic nitrogen. Tomatoes and greens grow especially well in this compost.
We mulch our raspberry and blackberry plantings with fresh horse bedding from mid October through December. We comply with OMRI(Organic Materials Research Institute) requirements of no fresh animal waste application within 120 days of harvest for crops that touch the ground and within 90 days for crops that are above the ground. In addition, because we use black plastic, most of our crops do not touch the ground.
These cultural practices are used as a first line of defense against insect pests. Because we grow high quality organic produce, we do control insect pest populations that would otherwise injure our crops. We use OMRI approved pest sprays that allow for harvesting on the same day as it is applied, although we always give plenty of time before harvesting. For example, we use "Pyganic" which is natural pyrethrin, a broad-spectrum pesticide that is extracted from marigolds and chrysanthemums. We also use "Safer" insecticidal soap and our own capsaicin hot pepper and garlic sprays. We use OMRI approved "Neem" oil against Mexican bean beetles. We use pulverized lime on cabbages and broccoli to control cabbage looper caterpillars. We use fabric bedding covers on cucurbits to deter cucumber beetles.
Examples of "trap crops" include buckwheat and blue Hubbard squash. The squash is planted near our zucchini, summer squash and cucumbers to draw away and trap cucumber beetles.
We obtain the latest up-to-date information on organic farming practices through our close association with both UK and KSU professors. For example, we toured the UK field farm in 2008 and attended Professor Mark William's presentations at both the 2009 Fruit and Vegetable Grower's meeting in Lexington and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Work Group in Chattanooga. We attend the "Third Thursday Thing" at the KSU Field Farm in Frankfort and listen to talks from Professor Michael Bomberg. Dave Spalding from UK has been very helpful in teaching us how to use drip irrigantion and black plastic mulch and how to grow vegetables in Kentucky.
We grow a wide selection of produce including fruits and vegetables such as:
Spring Produce: Lettuce, spinach, strawberries, kale spring onions, garlic and snap peas.
Early Summer: Blueberries, blackberries, beans, okra, summer squash, zucchini, culinary herbs and cut flowers.
Late Summer: Raspberries (red & champagne), heirloom tomatoes & peppers, sweet corn, pumpkins, sweet & yellow potatoes, cabbage, ornamental gourds, melons, acorn & butternut squash & more.