How We Farm
Our mission is to grow wholesome food to nourish our community and our soils.
How do we do this?
Quality. No-Till. Biodiversity. No-Spray. Community. Transparency.
We plant vegetable varieties for taste and nutrition, but also for fun and to please the senses. We grow the food we want to be eating in our own home.
We have high standards for what gets picked out of the field, and we harvest the morning you pick up your produce so it is fresh and nutritious. We use methods that keep crops as clean as possible in the field, and we wash and pack them with great care so you are getting gorgeous, clean, high-quality food.
All that said, we believe quality begins in the soil, the foundation of resilient and productive crops. Our no-till, no-spray farming practices promote healthy soils and healthy plants.
No-Till Farming: Minimal Soil Disturbance
Tilling is a farming practice that these days usually refers to the use of machine-operated implements to turn over, plow under or otherwise dig up and mix the soil–think tractor and plow. Conventional farms use tillage for many reasons including terminating weeds, to shape beds for the next planting, or to combat compaction in the soil.
Wander Creek Farm chooses not to till as a regular farming practice. We use less destructive, biological, human-scale methods to address issues such as weeds, bed preparation, compaction, etc.
No-till methods maintain the natural soil structure developed by the plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals inhabiting the understory of our fields by avoiding the disturbance of soil as much as possible. When natural processes work their magic, erosion is minimized, moisture is retained, compaction is alleviated, and soil nutrients stabilize. Healthy soil equals healthy plants equals healthy people.
Our practices include the use of:
- permanent beds–no need to reform beds after every crop
- organic mulches (such as living plants like clover, or plant residues like leaves or wood chips) which not only protect the soil from erosion and evaporation, and not only smother weeds and keep weed seed from germinating, but also adds soil-building organic matter to our beds and our pathways
- compost-based fertility which builds soil while feeding plants–no synthetic fertilizers
- cover-crops which do so many things! Some grow deep roots that break up soil compaction, or pump nutrients into the soil, or make specific nutrients available, or sequester carbon, or provide a ton of biomass that will eventually make its way back into the soil as enriching organic matter, or simply photosynthesize which drives life above and below the ground
- occultation–a process that uses opaque tarps to smother weeds and terminate certain crops
We grow a diversity of crops for food and medicine, but we also aim to plant trees and perennials and create habitats for bees, birds and other beneficial insects and pollinators. And you! Whoever you are, you’re welcome here.
No Pesticides or Synthetic Fertilizers
We will never spray our crops with pesticides of any kind or synthetic fertilizers. We deeply value feeling good about eating food right out of the field.
“Organic” or not?
To be certified organic, one must work with a qualified agency which ensures that a farm is in fact employing organic farming practices. It is a lengthy process that takes time, sometimes years, and considerable cost. We understand the importance of consumers being able to trust that their food is as safe as “organic” allows, and the importance of farmers being held accountable. We also consider “organic” requirements to be a baseline, and that there are many ways to grow above and beyond the stipulations of an organic certification.
We are in the process of certification, but we are not currently organic-certified, and therefore we are not allowed to say we use “organic practices.” But I assure you we do, and then some. Please ask us any questions about this and come see how we farm!
Our sales are local, intentionally. We believe food grown here should be available to the people here. We also have come to know the magic of communing around food created with care and intention, and through this we look forward to building community. In the future, when we get to know this new community better, we imagine events like workshops, music, and of course, eating together.
Ask us about our practices! There are no trade secrets here. We want to share everything we do and learn so everyone can benefit from our mistakes and success. This was the way of our teachers, and we feel strongly about passing it on.