When John and I defined our vision for Yellow Stonehouse Farm, we had these goals:
- Work together and for ourselves doing enjoyable work in a beautiful, low stress environment.
- Improve the farm and bring it to its full potential.
- Be good stewards of the land. Cherish the natural beauty, resources & wildlife of the farm.
- Enjoy a healthy, outdoor lifestyle on the farm.
A big goal was to be healthier, which meant farming and growing vegetables organically, as we didn’t want to use and expose ourselves to anything toxic. We figured that if something can kill insects and weeds then it probably isn’t very good for us either!
John and I are risk averse and believe in prevention. We don’t take unnecessary chances – especially with something as important as our health and the health of others. Here’s our rationale: if we can eliminate a risk and still obtain a satisfactory result, go ahead and eliminate the risk! We also don’t think enough testing is done on herbicides & pesticides and we aren’t willing to take chances with insufficiently tested products. Bottom line – we don’t use herbicides or insecticides.
Insecticides are an obvious hazard (they are poisons) but there is increasing scientific evidence that herbicides are hazardous to human health on a cellular level. Researchers have found evidence of impacts on the brain, nervous systems and blood of humans, and it is the youngest among us that are the most vulnerable. It’s one reason we are pleased to have many families as members – plus it’s fun teaching children about where their food comes from.
It’s a big effort to wage our annual organic battle against the weeds and pests. We use lots of ground cloth and transplant thousands of seedlings to win the race against weeds and use torches to kill the weeds that survive. We rotate vegetables and plant cover crops to interrupt the life cycles of pests. We employ natural predators like Lady Bugs and Praying Mantis against unwanted insects such as aphids, and hand pick some pests like Tomato worms. We use plants to encourage beneficial insects and also to repel unwanted ones. We also hand weed and cultivate many, many rows of vegetables!
Being organic isn’t easier but it’s worth it for our health and that of our shareholders! Next time I’ll talk about how we became Westfield’s first USDA Certified Organic farm.