This is my main field for this year.
After a beautiful snowy winter, spring approaches quickly. This winter I have spent a lot of my time thinking, planning, and waiting for signs of spring to come. And now the signs are here in abundance. For me, the time of contemplation is ending and the time of action is beginning. Seeds will be started in abundance in the coming weeks. My first greenhouse will be up and ready to go soon, and more greenhouses are on the way.
As part of my contemplation on last year and this coming year, I have decided to define myself as part of a few different types of alternative organic agriculture that I support and have been practicing for some time and want to continue to practice more extensively in the future.
First of all, I am a probiotic farmer. Probiotic farming is farming that aims to add beneficial organisms to the soil in order to make the soil healthy. Over the winter, I joined the Probiotic Farmer’s Alliance on Facebook and realized that the growers there and I are kindred spirits.
Many of the PFA practices are simple and effective. Actively aerated compost tea has always been a favorite input of mine. It is simple and I have seen the results when used a few times or more on plants. Compost tea is a simple as it sounds. Also, making anaerobic fermented plant teas from nettles growing on the farm has been another beneficial practice that I have seen excellent results from over the years.
Probiotic farmers are using the best organic practices from a variety of alternative organic practices and bringing them together under a label that is inclusive and supportive. Many of the practices come from Korean Natural Farming and its low cost Korean alternative JADAM farming, but there are also ideas from many other farming practices that fit under PFA label. This year I will be making many new plant teas and microbial potions based on their techniques.
I hope that by adding lots of microbial life and locally produced natural inputs, I can get the soil to be more alive and have significantly more nutrient cycling that I can get by just adding compost. Our soil is very sandy and dries out quickly. As soon as the soil is dry, nearly all the life in the soil becomes dormant or dies. By regularly adding small amounts of microbial mixtures during watering, I will be reinoculating the dry soil with abundant life. The abundant life in the soil lives and dies, and as it goes through its life processes, makes more nutrients available to the plants.
The other label that I feel comfortable applying to my farming practices is that I am a regenerative agriculture practitioner. Sustainability implies that one is trying to maintain the maintain the health of the environment that they live and farm in. I, on the other hand, want to significantly improve the areas that I use for agriculture by making sure that I leave the land better off than how I found it. I want space for mammals, insects, and micro wildlife to thrive in my gardens. Making the soil more fertile over time sounds better to me, because most soils are not as healthy as they could be.
Both probiotic farming and regenerative agriculture are not religions, but to me and many others they are important spiritual practices. Some people, like me, get more out of trying to partner with nature that they do out of other types of spiritual practices that focus on an impersonal relationship with the great mysteries out there.
I don’t expect incredible results, but I do expect that I will grow a little myself by getting to spend time in nature participating in something I love. I will feel the rain and crave it like a dry plant in the desert. I will see the seasons change and know that time moves like the river. There is no beginning to this and no end to this. It is my way of life. I hope some other people out there realize that they too should consider partnering with nature and learn about some of the best practices in organic farming.
In the first photo is Oriental Herbal Nutrient preparation I am making based on Korean Natural Farming. The second photo is my first batch of Fermented Plant Juice made using fresh hemp leaves.