Monday, April 30, 2012

Farm Metrics: Organic Choreography

[Farm field view, image via Double Portion]

One of the most appealing elements of the agricultural landscape for me is it's overtly dynamic character. While every landscape changes over time, few man-made landscape change as dramatically, or as often, as a multi-crop farm. Cycles of planting, harvest and fallow periods mean changing scales, color and composition across the land through the seasons and the year. The type and age of vegetation are in constant rotation, and so too the birds, insects and animals that might find shelter or food within the agrarian landscape. These marked changes are the result of careful planning by the farmer to meet the needs of the market, the land and the season. Below Pablito of Terra Firm Farm CSA shares how his farm changes throughout the season, and some statistics about yields. It's a brilliant look behind the scenes at a complex orchestration of the land...

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What crops do you think we grows the most acreage of?  The largest amount of? Which crop has the longest season? We harvest crops from our fields 50 weeks out of every year, and we plant seeds or plants in the ground 48 of those weeks.  Like all good farmers and most organic farmers, we practice a four year crop rotation -- meaning that we don't plant the same crop in the same spot more than once every four years.  This is a way to avoid the buildup of pests, weeds, and diseases adapted to certain plants.  

While we grow about 50 different crops, for crop rotation purposes there are 10 different options to choose from:  

alliums (onions/garlic/leeks);
brassicas
(broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.);
chenopods
(spinach/beets/chard);
cucurbits
(melons/summer & winter squash/cucumbers/watermelons);
corn;
legumes (beans/peas); 
solanum
(tomatoes/potatoes);
umbels
(carrots, fennel/parsnips). 
Sweet potatoes, lettuce, and basil are minor crops for us.