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Farming Practices

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Seeds and Seed Starting Medium

We choose organic seeds when possible. Occasionally we choose a conventionally grown seed if an organic choice is not available in that variety. We never use genetically modified seeds. We always purchase organically grown cover crop seeds.

Fort Vee - organic compost based potting soil for seed starting made in Montpelier, VT by Vermont Compost.

Fertility and Amendments

We use certified organic granular fertilizer. For example, Nature Safe 10-2-8

Our fertility program varies according to annual soil tests

Seedlings are fed with Fish/Seaweed emulsion from Neptune’s Harvest every 7-10 days. We occasionally  use a backpack sprayer to feed crops in the field that need a fertility boost as well.

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Water

We have a well for irrigation and greenhouse production

on the farm side of the road

We use town water for washing produce and for watering at the farmstand.

Mulch

We love to use straw, leaves, and woodchips for mulch. All of these organic materials feed soil, microorganisms, cycling nutrients, and keeping the soil alive. Organic mulch preserves moisture and suppresses weed germination and growth. At the very least, mulched weeds pull out more easily. Sometimes we use cardboard under wood chips to really hold weeds down and build the soil.

Landscape Fabric. This highly reusable, weed-suppressing fabric is used for certain crops that are in the ground for at least a few months. We have holes burned into the fabric in rows at certain spacings. We often grow field cucumbers, zucchini, melons, certain flowers, and tomatoes in our caterpillar tunnels on fabric. Landscape fabric does a great job of keeping weeds down, it warms the soil, and once removed leaves beds perfect for direct seeding.

straw

Weed Management

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Cultivation is the practice of disturbing weeds when they are small and letting them dry out and die. Hand hoeing is often used at our farm. For certain crops, we are able to use tractor cultivation with our Farmall Cub. Certain crops require handweeding. The ideal situation for farmers is to minimize handweeding and prevent weeds from setting seed in the field.

Flame weeding. This process is mostly for carrots, who have a longer germination than most weeds. Just before the carrot seeds come up, we use a propane torch to kill the small weeds, leaving a “stale seedbed” for the carrots to emerge into. 

Tarps - for “digesting” crop residue rather than erasing with a rototiller

Spinach Wash Station

Harvest/Postharvest

All harvesting at White Barn Farm is done by hand. We try to harvest greens first thing while it is cool. We have a wash station located at the barn where we dunk and/or spray the crops with town water to remove dirt and take the field heat out. Washed and packed crops are moved promptly to walk in refrigeration to keep them at peak freshness.

Pest Management

OMRI certified

Bt, Neem

Exclusion with the use of remay, insect netting, or screen on the hoophouses.

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