Down On The Farm

Niel Ritchie blog, featured, news

Greetings and welcome to our new blog series!

This is the 4th year of our farm’s healing journey from a chemical-intensive, corn-on-corn monoculture with badly depleted soils, to a highly productive, diverse, and vibrant certified organic landscape teeming with life and possibility. We’re excited about our progress and eager to share what we’re learning this season.

Our goal is to help a new generation of farmers transition to a more profitable system of agriculture that not only produces an abundance of food and fiber, but creates wildlife habitat, restores the soil, and improves water quality. Our demonstration farm plays a central role in the process. Here’s how:

  • It’s a working, diversified farm and a hub for innovation and cooperative development.
  • It’s a living laboratory for climate-friendly, regenerative agriculture.
  • It’s a unique classroom for field training, observation, and research.
  • And it’s a welcoming place for community participation.

We’re documenting our progress and creating a roadmap for a much-needed shift to a more climate-conscious food and agriculture system. Twice each month, we’ll use this space to share stories about happenings Down on the Farm.

You’ll hear from our farm team about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how you and other farmers can apply what we’re learning. A few highlights:

We’re growing some high-value vegetable crops like asparagus and garlic to generate cash flow, and testing the market for a variety of botanicals. We’re also providing a diverse group of Northfield community members with technical support and infrastructure to grow their own vegetables as part of an innovative community land-share program.

Livestock is an essential part of the soil health equation, and as much as we love our chickens, they don’t provide enough manure to fertilize an entirely organic farm.  We’ve paid for organic fertilizer in the past, a significant expense. This year we’re piloting a cooperative program with our farmers to graze sheep and cows on our fields which will keep the weeds in check and build soil fertility, a win-win!

Over the years, we’ve experimented with several coop models to produce incredible free-range chicken for our CSA as part of our legacy training program. This season we’re adding in a new mobile coop designed by our team, based on years of experience and feedback from our trainees and producers. You’ll get to see how it’s built and follow the first flocks from start to finish.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share photos and updates on our farm’s crops, critters and climate efforts and introduce you to a growing network of ordinary people doing extraordinary work to secure a regenerative future. Thanks for joining us on this journey.  See you next time.  

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