After reviewing, researching and seeing some of the leading Bio-intensive farms in action, we have realized at Greater Greens how intuitive it really is, these farms are essentially mimicking nature at its best. Look all around you at nature, in a forest, a marsh, a grassland prairie, how much ground do you see in these areas? None! They are always covered and always changing with the seasons, bringing always new plants that work together to thrive. Bio-intensive mimics these natural cycles and provides, in addition, a reversal of the negative environmental impacts of modern-day farming by doing a few key things.
1. When established the ground is always covered – this protects the soil and locks in moisture while protecting beneficial fungi, nematodes and other micro-organisms that are needed to fix nitrogen and carbon into the soil and aerate the soil under the surface naturally without tillage and the release of greenhouse gases.
a. We practice high density planting and use mulching such as hay and straw to keep ground covered when plants are small and developing.
2. Focus on high biodiversity – bio-intensive farms are not mono-crop farms, they focus on multiple crops and effective crop rotations, often year-round to keep pests in check and provide ample food and nectar to beneficial pollinators and predatory species we want to thrive.
a. At Greater Greens we are working towards growing nearly 300 varieties of vegetables, fruit, berries, herbs, and hedge rows to bring good diversity to our soil and our native pollinators.
3. Practicing rapid crop rotations – seedlings and transplants are started in greenhouses so plants are somewhat established before going into the soil. This allows them to thrive once out-doors and allows for lower pest management requirements.
a. This also allows for high density planting and high revenue potential for organic farming, helping show organic farming is sustainable both environmentally as well as economically.
4. Crops are not tilled under – crops are typically chopped with the root left intact, so more organic matter is left in the ground and soil is able to build up a structure for healthy organisms to thrive and keep non-beneficial pests from overpopulation.
a. More organic matter means more water, Carbon and Nitrogen can be retained in the soil. This allows us to use <10% of the water of a conventional farm and no synthetic fungicides, pesticides and herbicides.
5. Regular mulching is applied – since crops are rotated often, and each application of a new crop comes with compost and potentially other needed nutrients or amendments the soil continues to build with each planting.
a. We apply mulching with each new planting – providing even more organic matter to rapidly build the soils health.
6. We integrate hedge rows – we use herbaceous and woody plants to provide hedge rows. This help create habitats year-round for our pollinators and beneficial predator insects. These also offer wind and temperature buffers for our crops.
a. We add hedges to ever 6-8 rows to optimize our pest management and organic practices
With these practices we hope to provide healthy nutrient rich food to our local community, while leaving only a positive impact on the environment. This is true to our mission “Greater Greens for the Greater Good of our Planet”.