Our journey as dirt-lovers began with an emphasis on organic.  The foundation beneath and philosophy behind what it means to “grow organically” may have been the real reason behind how we got our start as growers.  As we have apprenticed and witnessed a variety of farms across the United States, this philosophy has evolved to what some now coin as “beyond organic” methods.

Our farming practices could be considered somewhat spiritual.  Many grocery store consumers do not realize what they are supporting when  they buy into the “organic” label on their bag of carrots.  They do not know that there are miles and miles of unused fields in Northern California.  Fields that have had carrots grown, year after year, in that exact same field.  Carrots grown on a massive scale, utilizing heavy machinery that destroys the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.  Carrots grown with organic seeds and with organic methods.  Carrots grown for suckers ; )  No, but seriously, you have been fooled.

Organic methods MEAN WELL (for the most part), and don’t get me wrong, they are FAR superior to their nutrient-deprived, conventionally grown cousins.  But when anything is grown on a scale large enough to end up at your chain food store, it most likely was not grown with respect for the soil.

We are stewards for the soil we work with.  We give back what we take away via cover-cropping.  We rotate our crops, ensuring that we’re not depleting the soil of the same nutrients time and time again.  We use heirloom seeds and fertilize with manure from our goats and chickens.  And most importantly, we build soil, as opposed to destroying it. Layering upon the earth thick masses of straw, manure and compost, we ensure that the microorganisms and existing soil ecosystem goes minimally unharmed.  Amen to the worms and beyond!

That’s it in a nutshell for our herbs and veggies.

We practice equal respect for our goats, bees and chickens.  Our layer hens have a gorgeous, spacious chicken tractor that Chris built.  They are rotated to fresh pasture monthly, which gives them access to fresh plants and bugs, and in turn gives us nutrient-packed, bright orange egg yolks.  We “keep” a small herd of LaMancha dairy goats.  They receive regular herbal wormers and are never given chemical treatments or harmful vaccinations.  The milkers receive minerals and hand mixed grains.  As for now, we can only afford conventional feed for both the chicks and goats.  It is our very ambitious goal to grow at least half of our own grains starting this spring, 2012.  The goats accompany us often into the woods for (what they consider) delicious forage walks.

Chris is our dedicated bee man.  He discovered Warre hive style beekeeping several years ago, when we were keeping bees illegally in the suburbs.  A long time ago, bees were bred to be bigger.  The thought was, “bigger bees, bigger pollen baskets, more honey.”  This (big surprise) ended up not being the case, and actually had a negative impact on the health of the once wild hives.

Another thing that most consumers don’t know is how local beekeepers are able to stock their grocery store shelves with bottle after plastic bottle of honey.  It’s another big gimmick, folks.  One VERY big and well-known “local” honey company sources 90% of their honey from CHINA, which is shipped over in unregulated containers.  Look closely at your labels!  “Processed” or “packaged” in Kansas is not the same as 100% produced in Kansas.  And even then you have to be careful.  Most conventional hives are a large part of SUGAR water (the white, refined stuff), which is fed to thee bees regularly to increase their production.  In addition, since many honey producers don’t use a crush and strain method as we do, a large part of the allergy-reducing, beneficial pollen is spun and separated out.  Ever wonder why the local honey trick to treat allergies didn’t work for you?  Well there ya go.  (And I’m NOT trying to sell you our honey.  We barely get enough to use for ourselves!

Chris builds our bee boxes, which are smaller than conventional hives. He also creates top bars, as opposed to placing wax inserts into the hives, so that the bees can build their own comb.  The bees eventually regress back to their smaller, ferrel size.  This, in combination with them building their own delightful honeycomb, creates, healthier, happier bees, which in turn gives the richest, darkest, most incredible honey I have ever come across.  Amen again.  Planting forage fields for the bees is another goal for 2012.

So now that I have thoroughly confused you, what are you supposed to eat???  My suggestion would be to take your health into your own hands, starting with our primary medicine: FOOD.  Take a night off from your regular programming and research the farms in your area.  Go and visit the farms.  Ask questions.  If you aren’t able to grow a portion of your own food, find out who is and how they’re doing it.  It is of MONUMENTAL importance.

Bon apetit!