The Farm Hub is growing grain corn and soybeans on approximately 450 acres as a means of demonstrating no-till and organic product techniques such as interseeding and rolling and crimping. Rye and alfalfa enhance the soil and are harvested for straw as mulch in the vegetable fields. Two heritage wheat and rye varieties from our small grains trial were selected for production-scale grow-outs this year.
Cover crops are planted for the purpose of protecting and improving the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer, and decreasing insect and disease pressure. They also can protect soil from wind erosion and flooding. Red clover, buckwheat, timothy, alfalfa, rye, and oats are all used as cover crops in the farm’s carefully planned rotation.
The Farm Hub’s 30 acres of organically grown vegetables are the focal point of our ProFarmer and production staff training programs. Sweet corn, green beans, garlic, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage are grown at scale, with additional acreage dedicated to testing experimental cover crop mixes for minimum tillage systems. To address food insecurity, the Farm Hub donates over 100,000 pounds of produce annually through regional networks.
Current field trials in conjunction with Cornell Cooperation Extension (CCE) are addressing disease issues in garlic and pests in sweet potatoes and allium. A multi-year project with CCE and Cornell University is trialing small grains varieties, and Kernza, a perennial wheat crop, is being grown at the Farm Hub in partnership with the Land Institute. Our Farmscape Ecology team is engaged in long-term monitoring and has implemented a native meadow trial to examine habitat for beneficial insects and grassland birds and flood-prone areas.
Native American Seed Sanctuary
The Seed Sanctuary at the Farm Hub is a collaborative project with Seedshed and the Akwesasne/Mohawk tribe of northern New York State. We are growing Native American varieties of corns, beans, squash, and sunflowers for rematriation of seeds to the tribe and for youth and cultural programs at Akwesasne.
The Farm Hub is continuing its partnership with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program and collaborators. Through a partnership with this program, the Farmscape Ecology Program is studying the ways in which the regional agricultural landscape can benefit the surrounding environment and vice versa.
The projects that form part of this collaborative seek to answer two related questions: ‘What impact are the Farm Hub’s activities having on its soil and adjacent waters?’ and ‘How can on-farm habitat management enhance both the abundance of agriculturally-beneficial creatures and the conservation of biodiversity?” Taken together, this work can help the Farm Hub gauge and manage its own impacts, and, ideally, suggest management techniques that will be useful at the Hub and at other regional farms.
Water quality is being addressed primarily through the work of Prof. Shafiul Chowdhury of SUNY – New Paltz, with the help of equipment lent by the Cornell Soil Health Lab. He and his students are monitoring surface water conditions on and around the Hub’s fields. By comparing their results to historical data, they are exploring how recent changes in land management at the Hub may be influencing Esopus water quality. In addition, the Farmscape Ecology Program is assisting the Profarmers and Farm Hub staff in the regular collection of soil samples in order to follow evolving soil conditions.
The study of habitat management involves on-site and off-site work. In partnership with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, native meadow trial plots have been established at the Farm Hub Hub to test wildflower seed mixes intended to improve habitat for beneficial insects and stabilize soils. At a larger scale, the Farm Hub’s Anne Bloomfield is following bird communities as the Hub’s field management changes. Such study may document the importance of under-valued habitats, suggest new approaches to field test at the Hub, and, ultimately, result in management ideas worth sharing with other growers.