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Small Farms Staff to Present at “Farmer to Farmer” Conference

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 … Read More

Building Healthy Pasture Soils

By Lee Rinehart, NCAT Program Specialist The following article is an excerpt from the factsheet “Building Healthy Pasture Soils” available in full at and can be downloaded as a free PDF at the website, along with many other guides and resources.   Let’s consider the agricultural practices that help build healthy soil. In essence, we want to increase aggregation, … Read More

Take Me Out to a Tarped Field

Learning a small-scale organic method to reduce tillage with less weeds  by Ryan Maher and Brian Caldwell Baseball fans know tarps are critical for keeping fields clean. Heavy rain falling on the diamond can quickly spoil a game. When you’re running for cover, turn your eyes to the field and you will see a crew … Read More

No-Till Organic Relay Cropping in Kentucky

Salamander Springs Farm uses powerful cover crop sequences to produce crops, forage and seed. by Brian Caldwell & Ryan Maher Susana Lein is ahead of the curve.  She has put together so many practices at Salamander Springs Farm near Berea, Kentucky that we can only scratch the surface in this article. Permaculture principles are at … Read More

Building Healthy Pasture Soils

Focus on biology to build resilient soils that sustain production and deliver profitable yields with reduced inputs. by Lee Rinehart Soil fertility in pastures goes well beyond a simple discussion of soil samples, fertilizers, and the nutrients needed to produce high yields.  Rather, soil health is an ecosystem concept: it is holistic and complex, and … Read More

A Farmer’s Perspective – Long Term Soil Health and Fertility in a High Tunnel

Maintaining and improving soil health and fertility in a high tunnel is difficult and demands an analytical approach. by Andy Fellenz My first introduction to high tunnels was in 1998 at an organic farming conference, when I was still a wannabe farmer and knew little about farming.  I eagerly absorbed the presenter’s message on high … Read More

Mulch for Organic Vegetables—Grown in Place

Organic farmers and researchers utilize cover crops to reduce the labor and expense of organic mulches. by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher Organic mulches like hay or straw can suppress weeds and improve soil.  They are used by many small scale vegetable farmers, but the cost of the material and application may be prohibitive for larger … Read More

The Green Lie: Grassland Version

The Green Lie of Hay and Grazing Lands: Deceivingly Green Pastures Performing at a Fraction of Their Potential by Rich Taber At the time of this writing in early May, I look out the window onto a green, awakening landscape, with the sun trying to deliver its warm rays to kick start the green up process via … Read More

Efficient Use of Cover Crops at the Food Farm

by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher Janaki Fisher-Merritt grew up on a pioneering organic vegetable farm.  Janaki’s parents, John and Jane Fisher-Merritt, started The Food Farm in northern Minnesota in 1975.  They moved to their current location in 1988, became certified organic in 1990, and started the first CSA in the Duluth area in 1994.  … Read More

Small Scale No-Till Vegetables at Seeds of Solidarity Farm

by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher  Mulches and tarps combine to build active soils and suppress weeds. In 1996, Ricky Baruc and Deb Habib moved to 30 acres of forested land in Orange, MA.  Roughly 5 acres of woods over uneven, rocky soil were logged and cleared in preparation for a house, farm and teaching center.  … Read More

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