On Being Organic – why Yellow Stonehouse Farm is Westfield’s first Certified Organic Farm

This week’s topic is Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s embrace of Organic Farming as Westfield’s first organically certified Farm.  Farming Organically while maintaining the land sustainably is an integral piece of our approach to farming, food, and stewardship of the land, and it’s been our way of life for many years.

Why?  The answer is cumulative and begins with learning to grow vegetables as children – when (and yes this ages us) there wasn’t an array of insecticides, herbicides or weed killers, chemical fertilizers and the like.  Instead we weeded rows of vegetables, picked off tomato worms and Japanese beetles, used grass clippings and newspaper to suppress weeds and our neighbor’s horse or cow manure as fertilizer.

Coincidentally, we enjoyed an abundance of bees, birds, butterflies, wild flowers and animals.

You see, the problem with the insecticides is they kill ALL the bugs not just the bad ones.  So you may be getting rid of the Japanese beetles but you’re also killing the lady bugs, praying mantises, lace wings and butterflies.  When you use herbicides, you kill every plant – not just the weeds (what is a weed anyway?) but the Milkweed, wild flowers, and other native plants.

Indiscriminately killing off swaths of plants and insects deprive other plants, insects, birds and animals the food they need to survive.  A recent example is the Monarch Butterfly:  current farming and landscaping practices promote killing all weeds in a field, lawn or golf course, but this also kills off Milkweed.  As a result, Monarch butterfly larvae don’t have a food source which is directly contributing to the population crash of Eastern Monarchs in recent years – though paving over many of the green spaces in Northeast metropolitan areas is also a critical factor.  One of the saddest things I have ever seen was a lone Monarch butterfly flying through the concrete jungle in NYC – without a nectar source or flower in sight.

A huge benefit of organic farming are healthy ecosystems.  At Yellow Stonehouse Farm, we enjoy a robust ecosystem where bats feast on and control mosquitoes, ladybugs eat aphids and other plant eating pests, birds eat beetles and other predatory insects, and the wild flowers including Milkweed attract and support bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.  Our vegetables are amazingly pest free!

Spring is when nature comes roaring back to life – and we get to enjoy it’s exuberant blossoming because we don’t interfere in the natural cycle.  Next time, we’ll write about Organic Farming’s health benefits for humans and why our organic vegetable CSA is so popular.

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