– Growing Without Chemicals

Holcomb Farm CSA is part of a larger renaissance of small farms. Our guiding principles include responsible stewardship of soil, water, and other natural resources; biodiversity; non-toxic growing practices; economic viability; and the maintenance of a customer and community friendly farm.

We use the organic standards as a guide to our practices, but we are not certified organic – we grow without chemicals. We are happy to share our growing practices with our members and anyone else who is interested.

WhatwegrowHealthy soil is at the heart of sustainable agriculture. Soil fertility at Holcomb Farm CSA is maintained through the use of soil building cover crops, such as Rye, Oats, Sorgum-Sudangrass, and Hairy Vetch; the application of compost and manures; and use of a certified organic fertilizer blend. Soil ph, nutrient levels, and organic matter content are monitored annually. We make compost out of horse manure and bedding from area horse farms.

A broad spectrum of strategies is used to minimize crop losses due to pests, diseases and weeds. These practices include crop rotation, field sanitation, growing cover crops, using bug-excluding row covers, selection of disease-resistant varieties, and the selective use of botanical and biological controls, including beneficial insects. Weed control, a constant challenge in organic production systems, is managed through cultural practices, such as bare summer fallows that reduce the weed seed bank in the soil, quick growing cover crops that out-compete weeds, and stale seed bed preparation before a crop is planted. Once a crop is planted, the next step in weed control is regular, well-timed cultivation with tractor mounted implements. The CSA also uses a flame weeder to burn weeds that germinate before slow-germinating direct-seeded crops. Weeds that escape tractor cultivation are controlled by hoeing and hand pulling. For crops such as carrots, beets, and onions, a large amount of staff and volunteer time must be devoted to hand weeding.

We select our seed varieties for flavor, eating quality, yield, and disease resistance. Because our members receive our produce directly from the farm, often hours after it is picked, we do not have to select varieties for their ability to be shipped. This allows us to emphasize flavor over shelf life, and interest over uniformity.

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