The most basic component of a sustainable and healthy farm is healthy, rich soil with a living soil food web. Creating and maintaining healthy soil is Laura's primary job as the farmer. To hold that fantastic soil in place, all of the crop ground on Abbe Hills Farm is farmed using soil conserving practices like contour farming and minimal tillage. Cover crops grown in rotation with the primary crops also minimize soil erosion, plus keep plant nutrients in the topsoil where they can be available to crops, and help build soil organic matter and feed the soil food web. Insect pests and crop diseases on the farm are managed with resistant varieties, crop rotation, and biological diversity throughout the farm. Manure, compost, and some purchased fertilizer are used to supply plant nutrients for the gardens and the crops.
Symphony of the Soil
A new film about soil, called "Symphony of the Soil", was recently screened in Iowa. As soon as possible, we'll try to arrange for a showing for Abbe Hills Farm CSA shareholders. Everybody who has seen it says it is great, and really shows the critical importance of healthy soil for addressing problems like climate change, water quality, and the future of food production. You can listen to a "Talk of Iowa" program from March 27, 2012, with interviews with the filmmaker, Deborah Koons Garcia, and also with two of my mentors, Fred Kirschenmann and Francis Thicke. They discussed the things I like to practice here on the farm - growing a healthy soil food web in order to grow more and better food and to improve the land, air, and water we all share. I was inspired.