Sustained family farming is our priority for great produce, and that includes health of the soil AND our family, as well as habitat development and maintenance for native wildlife. Most soil tests recommendations are for attaining and maintaining 2% organic matter. We have achieved between 6-10% organic matter in all our fields. Why is this important? For every 1% organic matter the soil yields about 20 pounds of nitrogen available for plants during the growing season. At 6-10% level, that is between 120-200 pounds of nitrogen/acre – which cuts our fertilizer use considerably!!! This is a $$ savings and, more importantly, better for the environment.
Wildlife benefits from our practice of leaving heavy plant residues on the field and knocking the corn down in the Fall, but not plowing it under until the spring. We see the turkeys and migrating birds feeding in the fields all the time. When hedgerows are cut back to the walls, it is not only aesthetically pleasing, but provides wood to heat our house and gives out vegetable crops more room and sunlight to grow. A visit to the farm will reveal many food-bearing trees and shrubs spared to feed and shelter wildlife.
Apple Blossoms supporting native bees!
Part of great soils and bountiful wildlife is selecting the right pesticides. Many people ask if we are an organic farm and many people confuse the term organic with chemical free. They are NOT the same. Organic does not mean chemical free – you can use all the chemicals you want, as long as they are approved and on the OMRI list. Check out the OMRI list for more about approved chemicals for organic farms. Unfortunately, the chemical list is one you have to order for $30! Having said that, there are times when a synthetic chemical is actually safer than the “organic chemical”. Glenn determines this from studying the LD_50, health effects, photo degradation rate, and aquatic impacts. The health of our family is the number one determining factor in farm decisions. MOST of the greens and beans on this farm are grown without the use of any chemicals, some crops benefit from chemicals on the OMRI list, and others, such as the apples and peaches, require synthetic pesticides. Organophosphates are avoided!
Woodcock! So cool
We have also made MANY Bluebird and Wood Duck boxes and placed them all over the farm. Last year we fledged over 30 Bluebirds, plus even more Tree Swallows and a few Titmice from our nesting boxes.
Our pastures are carefully rotated to provide habitat for the Bobalinks… every year we have at least three nesting pair! Read more about sustainable farming at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website.
Stillman’s Farm is a diverse operation comprised of our Lunenburg farm stand and nursery, begun in 1980 and our New Braintree farm, purchased in 1990. As a small farm we have always fostered a commitment to the land and the environment by using a combination of traditional and organic practices. We were dissatisfied with the “organic” and “traditional” labels as they allowed the use of some sprays we view as unsafe for wildlife and ourselves. We have long believed in our obligation to our customers, our families, the land and its wildlife. For this reason we have created our own label, under which we market our farm goods, highlighting our beliefs, concerns and commitment to agriculture and open space. In 2004 we started labeling our produce as “Conscientiously Grown” to represent our more holistic approach. We believe strongly in our methods and our products and believe them to be of the safest and freshest nature available for all of us. Our new label responds to your concerns and our growing needs. Please join us to spread awareness and support for the label. Our farm has been conscientiously growing since 1980!
We offer the same vegetable varieties for sale as transplants every spring. Tried and true plants should give you the same success they have given us. Find our plants at the farm, market or online.