In the summer of 2017, we were seeking the right location to begin our family farm. Certainly, there are many variables that determine the suitability of land for farming. Yet, the fertility of the soil, a HUGE part of a farm’s success, did not weigh on our decision. Simply put, we KNEW fertility would be BAD at any spot we chose. Conventional farming, long a tenet of Robertson county, often focuses on adding synthetic fertilizers to provide plants with the needed nutrients. It provides a band-aid for a bigger problem: the soil is losing nutrients with each growing season. Any land we were going to purchase would require us to be proactive in bringing fertility back to the soil.
Increasing soil fertility is our primary concern with the market garden we are constructing. On our farm, we are always going to use methods that mimic nature and produce long-term benefits. We begin by broadforking the ground. This opens up airways under the surface and allows us to remove rocks (and Robertson County is renowned for its rocky soil!). Then we add a thick layer of compost. Over time, two main activities will occur to improve the soil’s fertility. First, worms, now able to work in the formerly compacted soil, will move in to feed on the compost. Second, the layer of compost slowly breaks down the soil below while providing the needed nutrients for this year’s crop. No tilling occurs and no chemicals are used. The plants thrive, while the soil itself begins the long road back to being the nutrient-dense life source it was so many years ago.
If you hear the term regenerative agriculture, this approach that we utilize is exactly what it means. We seek to regenerate land that has been slowly drained of its nutrients. We believe, and science is proving, nature itself has everything needed to heal itself. As land stewards, we simply need to apply the lessons nature has taught humanity for centuries. There are many farmers out there who realize this long term plan to renew and revitalize our farmland around the country is necessary in order for our food supply to continue to be nutritious and abundant.