We are farming on land that we have occupied since November 2014. Because the land was in conventional crop production in 2014, we will not be able to certify our produce as organic until 2018. During this waiting period, we are following the same farming practices that we used in the past when we were certified organic, and we have attained Certified Naturally Grown status. We grow our produce without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using farming practices that conserve soil and water, promote soil fertility and health, and preserve the health of surrounding ecosystems.
Pest and Disease Control
Our primary method of pest and disease control is to promote overall plant health and vigor and maintain an appropriate crop rotation. We use floating row cover to deter flea beetle damage. We occasionally use inter-cropping, beneficial insects, diatomaceous earth, and BT, an OMRI-approved biological control agent, to manage pests.
We use cover cropping to decrease weed emergence and discourage weed growth. We occasionally use mulch or green mulch to discourage weed emergence. We use mechanical cultivation (both tractor-based and manual) to control emergent weeds.
Feeding the Soil
We use cover cropping to increase soil carbon and nitrogen content. We spread manure produced by our chickens and turkeys on our fields, and often pasture our livestock directly on our fields, to increase overall soil fertility. We also work closely with Midwestern BioAg to obtain soil tests and we apply OMRI-approved fertilizers, such as micronutrients, when needed (for example, during planting).
We source our seeds from several seed companies, all of which have non-GMO pledges. We source organically produced seeds when they are commercially available, and use conventionally produced seeds when organic seeds are unavailable. We start seedlings in our greenhouse in plug trays, in a compost-based, OMRI-approved potting mix from Wisconsin. We occasionally apply fish emulsion to our seedlings before they are planted out.
Raising our Animals
We house our laying hens in a permanent barn and adjacent pasture and forested area. The birds have access both to dry, sheltered areas and ample pasture, and they can move freely throughout the barn and outside areas during the day. We use rotational pasturing, coupled with moveable shelters, to house our turkeys.
We raise all of our poultry from chicks, and do not use growth hormones or antibiotics. Our poultry is fed a conventionally-grown grain ration, overflow from the produce operation, and whatever bugs, grass, seeds and other greenery they can forage in the pasture and forested. Our poultry is processed at Twin Cities Pack in Clinton, WI