Healthy farmland is a microcosm of a heathy ecosystem; an abundance and diversity of life above and below the soil helping to make nutrients available to plants, ward off pests, pollinate crops, and contribute to the local food web. As the average farm size has grown, there has been a decline in both the quality and quantity of habitats that host farm ecosystems. Other farm practices like broad herbicide application and the reduction of flowering plants have also had negative impacts on beneficial native insects and honey bees.
Headwaters Farm serves as a demonstration site for several approaches to restoring on-farm habitat. The most prominent of these is the restoration work being done in the Dianna Pope Natural Area. This undisturbed area has great habitat and forage value to beneficial insects and is relatively close to the farmland. However, other habitat work is being done within and directly adjacent to fields actively in production. In partnership with the Xerces Society, EMSWCD is developing three defining habitat features: pollinator meadows, hedgerows, and beetle banks. Read more
This is the third in our “From our farmers” series, and was contributed by Pete Munyon of Udan Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.
Hi folks! Pete from Udan Farm here. I just wanted to take a minute to share a little of my excitement for ground-up ecology-building at Headwaters Farm with you. The folks from EMSWCD have done some awesome work restoring the native species to our little section of Johnson Creek, and now we’re looking forward to doing the same with the dirt in the Udan Farm field.
We all know that all animal life on earth depends on plants, but we don’t hear as often how plants depend on bacteria and fungi to help them structure the soil, get nutrients from the soil and air, and hold water in the soil. After several decades without promoting biotic activity, our soil has been taken pretty far from its natural state. To improve conditions we’ll be growing a variety of native wild flowers around the edge of our field, and soil building with ground covers underneath our crops. To help support these plants and our crops, one of our first activities this season was to spray our field with Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT). Read more
This is the second in our “From our farmers” series, and was contributed by Sue Nackoney of Gentle Rain Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.
Ever since Jim and I started Livin’ Spoonful, where we make yummy raw food crackers and cookies, we were committed to 100% organic ingredients. In our minds, there was no other way to be offering food to people that was truly nourishing, with the intention of helping them to thrive. That was almost 13 years ago.
Today, with our feet on the ground for our first season at Headwaters, we are finally realizing our vision of growing our own food ingredients for the crackers. It has been such a joy to be able to start Gentle Rain Farm and be a part of this amazing program and opportunity. Read more
This piece was contributed by Brian Shipman of Wild Roots Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program. This is the first in a series “From our farmers”; stay tuned for more Headwaters news soon!
There’s a simple, overused saying that I frequently refer to when making decisions on the farm or in the garden: timing is everything. In the spring, time moves erratically, in fits and spurts that are dictated by our transitioning weather. After spending much time in the winter laying plans and plotting calendar schedules for the upcoming growing season, it is so exciting to see the days lengthen and temperatures rise. All the plans we make in the off-season are so important in the spring, when we don’t have time to waste thinking about numbers, dates and so on. There are basically two modes to a farmer’s year: on- and off-season. For most farmers, winter is off-season – time for rest. The spring is the crucial transitional period when we know the countdown has begun – and it can be a challenge to remain patient knowing the work that lies ahead!
What I took away from Field School 2014
by Rowan Steele, Farm Incubator Manager
On October 3rd the farm incubator world descended on Headwaters Farm as part of the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative’s (NIFTI) annual Field School. The three-day event included two days of meetings, lectures, discussions and networking, and ended with a day of farm tours and onsite presentations.
As with any conference, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of topics, interactions, ideas and the general “nerd-fest.” The 2014 NIFTI Field School was no different—a complete inundation of everything that is beginning farmer development. It has taken a few weeks just to process the experience. In fact, I think it might take a full off-season before the content can be fully synthesized in relation to the Headwaters Incubator Program (HIP). Read more
It’s been a great season for the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program; one that has seen both the farm and its farmers grow by leaps and bounds.
This year there were eight farm businesses operating at Headwaters Farm. These businesses range from small scale medicinal herb operations to multi-acre vegetable production for restaurant sales. The diversity being produced onsite is evident in the range of markets where these products are sold. For example, several incubator farms practice Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)—subscription farming directly to the consumer—some of which are even forging a new approach to this model by providing bulk ‘canning shares’ of complementary preservable crops, like dill, pickling cucumbers, and garlic. Still Other farmers go with more traditional routes like selling at farmers markets or to local retail outlets. Read more