About Our Produce

Patty Pan Squash and Heir­loom Zucchinis

We sell most of our pro­duce through our 16 fam­ily CSA, but also will be attend­ing the Carlisle Farmer’s Mar­ket (Sat­ur­day morn­ings 8-12am) peri­od­i­cally through­out the summer. 

 

This piece of land we have come to farm has been very pro­duc­tive. Partly because it abuts a wet meadow and because it’s aspect is south­east. It hadn’t been farmed for more than 20 years and even then it was likely just ani­mals, not veg­eta­bles. It’s deep and organic in nature, lots of decom­pos­ing plant mate­r­ial, as opposed to min­eral (rocky or sandy) soils. It holds water like a sponge , con­se­quently we haven’t had to rely on irri­ga­tion, thus far.

 

We do most of the work in the gar­den by hand, aided by many use­ful tools designed for the small mar­ket gard­ner. Work­ing the gar­den by hand allows us to grow much more inten­sively in a small space, it keeps the soil from being com­pacted by trac­tors and it decreases our reliance on fos­sil fuels.

 

Our prox­im­ity to the wet­land brings in insects, drag­on­flies and but­ter­flies. Our tomato trel­lis last year may not have always been strong enough to han­dle the weight of the many large fruits, but the trel­lis did sup­port the land­ing site for many fledg­ling barn swal­low clutches out on their first flight. Blue­birds, too, used the wooden posts to hunt for early spring bugs.

 

The elec­tric fence that sur­rounds both the veg­etable patches, the pigs and the meat chick­ens pro­tects our charges from ani­mals that would also like a local source of fresh organ­i­cally grown food. Dave did his home­work on the best fence plan for our site. Our fences aren’t high (30″) but they are baited monthly with peanut but­ter. Appar­ently, most ani­mals like peanut but­ter and will go for the PB before they jump in for the ani­mals or vege. But when they lick the PB on the foil, hang­ing over the elec­tric fence, they get a shock­ing response! Hap­pens once, they don’t come near again.
We have exper­i­mented with walk­way man­age­ment to lessen weed pres­sure and increase soil fer­til­ity. Some rows are card­board from the bike shop (nice big pieces) with old hay from Con­cord DWP projects on top. We planted white clover in oth­ers and then mowed when weeds were top­ping the clover. That gives clover the advan­tage and it takes over. We bring in com­post for seed­ing and trans­plant­ing in the rows from a local farm and amend­ments (rock dust, myc­or­rhizal organ­isms and sea­weed mixes) from away, although we’re try­ing this year to work with com­post from

Ital­ian Eggplant

the horses to make it gar­den ready. We decided to use some plas­tic as mulch in the rows (there are those fos­sil fuels, sneak­ing back in). The area clos­est to the wet­land would have been weed hell if it were not for black plas­tic mulch. That’s under the toma­toes, egg­plants, pep­pers and squash. They love the extra heat and mois­ture reten­tion plas­tic offers. We also use row cover, which is spun plas­tic. That pro­tects our plants from pests with­out using pesticides.

 

We are grow­ing our plants using organic meth­ods, how­ever, we are not cer­ti­fied organic. Organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion poli­cies are very dif­fi­cult for a small farm to adhere to. They are lengthy, expen­sive and the record keep­ing require­ments are over the top. In addi­tion, we feel as if it is more impor­tant to try and cre­ate a closed loop on the farm and min­i­mize waste, than it is to adhere to a gov­ern­ment stan­dard. For exam­ple, we want to be able to use the horse manure gen­er­ated on the farm, even though all the horses are not fed organic grain. But you can rest assured that we don’t use any chem­i­cal (man-made) fer­til­iz­ers, her­bi­cides or pes­ti­cides on the farm, and never will.

BBFg Lunch­box

 

It would be bet­ter to describe our farm as eco-ganic. Eco-ganic is defined by Potomac Veg­etable Farm as a process by which a farm main­tains rich organic soils, full of ben­e­fi­cial microbes, to pro­vide the crops with suf­fi­cient nutri­ents and a healthy envi­ron­ment. The farm can’t use any syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers or pes­ti­cides, they rotate crops, grow many dif­fer­ent kinds of crops, and use timely and appro­pri­ate prac­tices to try to min­i­mize insect and dis­ease dam­age. The idea is to man­age the soil and cul­ti­vate the crops in ways that will allow the land to con­tinue to be pro­duc­tive now and into the future. We like this label the best. It’s about the mind blow­ing inter­ac­tion of so many parts (soils, insects and ani­mals, water, sun) com­ing together and under­tak­ing a amaz­ing cycle of growth, death, decom­po­si­tion and regrowth and, we as par­tic­i­pants, help per­pet­u­ate that cycle into the future.

 

All three of us have been com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing the health­i­est envi­ron­ment for our prod­ucts, whether they be plant or ani­mal. We want to eat respon­si­bly grown food, food that is high in nutri­ents and free of dam­ag­ing chem­i­cals. Black Brook Farm Grow­ers may not have the organic stamp of approval from big busi­ness, but we are bring­ing to mar­ket prod­ucts that are as good or bet­ter for our cus­tomers than what they buy from most other cur­rently avail­able food sources.