Producing a wide range of diversified vegetables on around 30 acres each year, the growing season is a balance between the sustenance that the land can provide for us and what we can give back to the land.
An intensive cover crop rotation and reduced tillage approach helps build organic matter. Generous compost additions help nurture biological activity back to the soil. Our reduced tillage initiatives are working to preserve our most valuable resource – the soil. And each year the land gives back to us hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce, the majority of which is used to supply local produce and value-added goods within the local emergency feeding system. In addition, our 24,000 square feet of greenhouse space also provides the community with fresh greens all winter long.
Vegetable distribution at the Farm Hub doesn’t end when the short days and cold temperatures set in. In fact, about half of the produce we grow is distributed between November and March. Much of our growing season is spent tending to the crops that will be harvested in the fall, stored in our wash and pack facility, and distributed during these winter months when growing food outdoors is not possible.
Field Crops Production
At present, the majority of Farm Hub land grows what are traditionally thought of as commodity crops—corn, soy, beans and wheat, raised in an on average four year rotation that allows a season of rest through soil-improving cover crops.
In 2021, we built a granary in anticipation of planting only food grade varieties of grains and pulses, such as pinto and black beans, soy, small grains including wheat, barley, and rye, primarily for baking, as well as corn varieties to be made into tortillas. As we develop our capacity to produce these food-grade varieties, we are coordinating baking trials to understand the local demand and specificity of products like flour and cornmeal. We are acting on the responsibility we have as stewards of these fields to protect our natural resources, while keeping some of the best farmland in the region productive. And thus, we’ve continued reduced-tillage experimentation, such as no-till planting spring wheat into winter-killed mixed species cover crops, and planting beans into roll and crimped rye. This approach also reduces our reliance on off farm sources of fertility and sequesters carbon, promoting a healthy soil microbiome.