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Sustainable Practices

Laura and Adam follow organic principles, and challenged themselves to achieve organic certification, because they agree with the focus on soil building and soil conservation. While organic farming emphasizes soil health and other important aspects of environmental sustainability, they also believe that sustainable farming needs to address social and financial factors. They even throw in a fourth component, emotional sustainability, having recognized the importance of ensuring that the stressors of farming do not start to outweigh the benefits.

Educator’s Perspective:
Resource Tip

Renewable Energy

Minnesota farmers can contact Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) for technical resources for community-scale projects involving wind, biomass, biofuels, and solar power.

Nationally relevant resources are available from ATTRA.

Adam and Laura would like to minimize off-farm inputs but know that overarching goals such as carbon neutrality are difficult to achieve with tractor-based farming. Their conversion of one gasoline tractor to electric, as described under Equipment, is a step in that direction. They hope eventually to incorporate solar energy generation into their farm.

Farmer’s Perspective:
On the Bookshelf

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener

By Eliot Coleman

With more than 45,000 sold since 1988, The New Organic Grower has become a modern classic. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman presents the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Coleman updates practical information on marketing, small-scale equipment, and farming and gardening for the long-term health of the soil.

Laura and Adam sought organic certification when they started out in 2005 for several reasons. As described in one of their articles from the New Farm, they considered both environmental and marketing factors. Their certifying agency is International Certification Services Inc.

Figure 6 shows the boundaries of the areas on their new farm that they include in their certification plan. The areas include “hay” or “pasture” in addition to their tillable fields so they can convert currently unused land into vegetable production in the future and have it already certified as organic. As with production methods, the details of Laura and Adam’s organic practices are too voluminous to reproduce here (their annual certification plan alone is over 30 pages). Below, however, are the basic elements of their approach to soil and fertility management and biodiversity.

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