Our Farming Practices
Green String Philosophy
At Green String Farm, we practice an approach to growing fruits and vegetables that can be described as “natural process agriculture.” By staying in step with natural processes, we are able to produce beautiful food crops with very low input. Because our plants develop strong immune systems of their own, they are pest-resistant without the need of fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.
Green String farming looks at the total system, rather than focusing on the food crop in isolation. Attention to soil health is a crucial component of producing healthful food - we make every effort to reduce the loss of biodiversity, both above and below ground. Use of cover crops, compost, compost tea, and crushed volcanic rock and oyster shell mineral supplements help ensure that the earth is able to grow vibrant fruits and vegetables.
The Green String farmer is closely attuned to the needs of his or her plants and the land on which they are growing. Ultimately, the goal is to create a self-nourishing system where less human intervention yields better quality crops.
We grow by the motto “50% for humans, 50% for nature,” maintaining an important balance between crops grown for human consumption and crops grown for soil improvement. In this way, we give back to the earth in a way that conventional fruit and vegetable production does not, with its emphasis on turning out the highest possible yields at the fastest rate. By using this approach, this style of agriculture also benefits the community by preserving green spaces and wildlife habitats, protecting the soils, conserving resources, and stimulating the local economy.
In order to grow healthy crops, you first have to grow healthy soil. Good soil structure and nutrient content depend upon the introduction of organic matter, most easily achieved by growing cover crops alongside or in rotation with crops grown for food. When we let cover crops grow to maturity, die, and then reintroduce themselves into the ground, they add much-needed nitrogen to the ground, while also providing the root structure that holds the soil together. Plantings of cover crops like clover, vetch, and fava beans are an essential component of strengthening soil fertility in natural process farming.
In addition to adding biomass to our soils with cover crops, we supply our plants with several other supplements to simulate the rich inputs found in untouched natural systems. We introduce extra beneficial microbes (like bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and protozoa) into the soil by applying compost. Compost tea, which is brewed by aerating a handful of dry compost with nutrients in water overnight, is also applied through our irrigation lines. Finely crushed volcanic rock, as well as powdered oyster shell, provide easily accessible mineral and calcium resources (respectively) for soil microbes to break down and transfer to our plants. When given these resources with which to build their own immune systems and plant bodies, we find that our plants are strong and resilient to pests and that there is no need for chemical pesticides.
Every plant improves soil structure by spreading out its roots and tunneling through the dirt, and in a natural setting, plants grow amidst a variety of other plant species. Noticing that mono-cropping does not occur naturally, the Green String approach to farming necessarily reconsiders the idea of “weeds.” Instead of fighting against these persistent plants, we let them grow up alongside our food crops. When they threaten resources like light and space for our desired food plants, we hoe or mow them back just enough, and leave the cut plant material to enrich the soils. Sometimes, we get a little help from herds of goats and sheep to keep overzealous cover crops in check! By resisting the urge to allow only the food crop to grow, it is possible to maintain biodiversity and enrich the soils while spending less time eradicating “undesirable” plants from our fields.