Central Massachusetts is not what you would call prime farmland. Like most of New England that isn’t blessed with a nearby waterway and thus alluvial deposits, our soils are thin and only farmable where the underlying landforms aren’t too rocky, hilly or wet to grow crops.
When Julie and I bought this land 36 years ago it was composed of two played-out hayfields that had been de-rocked years ago and about 30 acres of woods that had not. Since then we have put drain tile under the fields to get them plantable by April, brought or grown onto them uncountable tons of organic matter to build soil, and hauled from them an equal volume of rocks that the first team of de-rockers somehow missed. We have yet to deal with the underlying abundance of potter’s clay and ledge.
The big advantage to central Massachusetts, we told ourselves, was that the land was so unattractive to farmers that we didn’t have to worry about spray drift or chemical contamination by neighbors, a huge concern where Julie grew up in Illinois.
Since then we have built a serviceable farm here, certified organic since 1987 and are providing produce and small and orchard fruit through a CSA to some 60 families currently, and to several wholesale accounts. We also raise a number of animals and sell meat and eggs, mostly to individuals.
[Read more…] about Farming with Animals, Cover Crops, Manure, Mulches, and Minimal Tillage