If you head out to the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, NY, you’ll find a field filled with permanent beds in the organic section of the farm. These beds have been under trial for four years using different combinations of tarps, mulches, and tillage depths to discover the ideal system for an organic vegetable farmer who desires to reduce their tillage without succumbing to weed pressure. Years of meticulous planning and carrying out of the experiment have led to results that farmers in the northeast can implement.
The results of the four-year trial will be shared at the Farmer to Farmer Conference hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). On Monday, November 5, 2018. The Small Farms staff and a representative from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will be presenting at the Permanent Bed Session. The Freeville experiment was duplicated in both Maine and Michigan to test the effects of the methods across various climates and better serve farmers throughout the northeast based on their region.
Learn more about our research using the permanent bed system, as well as general methods to reduce tillage in vegetables on our project website. More resources include past Small Farm Quarterly articles: Strip Tillage and Cover Crops and Take Me Out to a Tarped Field, both written by Ryan Maher and Brian Caldwell of the Small Farms Program.
If you would like to hear exciting results firsthand, consider registering for the MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference being held November 3-5 in Northport, Maine. And be sure to attend the Small Farms Program’s Permanent Bed System presentation on Monday, November 5, from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.