August 24, 2010 by Glynwood Guest Post
This post was contributed by Dayna Locitzer, a farm apprentice at Glynwood.
The CRAFT workshop for Monday August 9th was held at Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, NY. Four Winds is a 24-acre, certified organic family farm where Jay Armour practices no-till farming.
The goal of organic no-till farming is to leave the soil undisturbed. The common practice of tillage turns topsoil and exposes what’s below. Instead of tilling, Jay uses permanent raised beds, layering them every year with compost and mulch to build up his soil.
Photo courtesy of Four Winds Farm.
Jay began practicing organic no-till farming 16 years ago as a way to eliminate weeds. In fact, it does greatly reduce weeds – because the repeated layering of compost and mulch covers the weed seeds, they are constantly blocked from sunlight which prevents them growing. The weeds that Jay does find are very easy to pull because his soil is very loose. Tilling often creates soil compaction just below the reach of the tiller’s tines. To avoid any compaction at all, Jay is very careful never to step on his beds. As a result, the weeds slip out of his raised beds as if they were in a greased bread pan.
Another advantage of no-till is that it holds organic matter in the soil. Jay told CRAFT that he has 7% organic matter in his soil – a big contrast to the common figure of 1% soil organic matter found on many farms.
August 4, 2010 by Glynwood Guest Post
This guest post was contributed by Nena Johnson, Public Programs Director at Stone Barns Center For Food and Agriculture.
About a week ago, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture welcomed 35 farm interns from around the region for a CRAFT visit. CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) is a network of farms in the Mid-Hudson and Lower Hudson Valley that offers field trips for interns, apprentices, and staff throughout the growing season – giving them a glimpse of the varied types of farming going on nearby. Typically the two-hour visits end with a potluck dinner, so in addition to getting some great technical content in, it’s a nice way to meet other like-minded young farmers from the area.
For the Stone Barns visit, our focus was compost. Gregg Twehues, Director of Nutrient Management at Stone Barns, started us off in the courtyard with an overview of composting basics. The recipe for compost is one of the simplest on earth: Carbon + Nitrogen / Time = Compost! The carbon ingredients are your “browns” – leaves, wood chips, shredded cardboard (more on that later); the nitrogen ingredients are your “greens” – table scraps, lawn clippings, garden material, and animal manures. A ratio of 30:1, Carbon:Nitrogen, ensures active aerobic, and timely composting. The materials begin to decompose, giving off heat and breeding good biology – critters that turn old leaves, food waste, manures, etc., into the “black gold” farmers spread on their fields and gardens as a natural and healthy fertilizer.
Compost windrows at Stone Barns.
May 17, 2010 by Dave Llewellyn
Starting this week, dozens of young farmers-in-training from all over the Hudson Valley will begin convening weekly to learn more about their trade. CRAFT, or the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, provides the means for supplementing on-farm training in a cooperative effort with a number of participating farms. A CRAFT visit is an operational tour, a talk or demonstration on a specific farm management topic, a networking opportunity for young farmers, and an occasion to socialize.