We are implementing the latest scientific recommendations for bee-friendly agricultural practices. We purposely create bee habitat on our farm by having forested areas that host flowering plants, hosting several hives, only using Tier 3 fungicides (the lowest toxicity of the 3 Tier ranking system for bee health), and having many flowering plants in August (a time of hardship for bees because few plants flower in the hottest part of the year). We don't use any neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder.
Traditional Growing Techniques
We grow half our strawberries by covering the ground with straw, which is the traditional way (hence the name strawberry). We are the only farmers left in NC who still grow strawberries in this manner. The newer way to grow strawberries is to cover the ground with plastic, a non-renewable material made from fossil fuels, which also requires more pesticide use and energy use as the plants have to be replaced each year. Instead, on straw, a natural material, the plants continue to bear for ten years or more and require less pesticide use.
We believe, and many studies show, that soil health is critical to the success of our farm. We believe in this so much that Ethan Lineberger, our current farm manager, has a Bachelor's degree in Soil Science and a Master's degree in Soil Biogeochemistry. As such, we try at every turn to reduce erosion. We also strive to reduce our dependence on chemical fertilizers by increasing the natural health of our soil. We do this by buying all the fall leaf waste from the town of Dallas and incorporating it into our soil. This improves soil fertility, workability, tilth, and the ability of the soil to retain water, giving us more drought tolerance. We also incorporate compost from Stanley. Improving our soil in an environmentally respectful way is an ongoing process for us.
We do not farm organically because we believe every tool available should be used responsibly to feed the world. With that in mind, we practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a new approach to sustainable agriculture. Within the IPM system, pesticides are the last tool we use to combat pests. For instance, we use peach tree borer twist ties in our peach orchard. These ties send out a natural chemical that confuses peach tree borers (insects that kill peach trees) and prevent them from mating. This reduces the population of the pest in our orchard, thereby reducing the need for pesticide use, and protecting our fruit.
Other IPM strategies include:
So, should you buy costly, certified organic produce grown in California's deserts and transported using fossil fuels all the way to NC? Or should you buy local produce, picked at the peak of ripeness and nutrition, that tastes better, and was farmed with a commitment to sustainability? It's a personal choice, but we believe in what we do.
The Organic vs. Conventional Debate
Many of our customers have questions about organic production. What is it? Is it safer for my family? Is it better for the environment? We had a lot of questions about this too. Quite frankly, we spent our lifetimes studying these topics. Our answer is no. There are some excellent articles below articulating all our reasons.
Some choice quotes:
Please read these articles. They shed a lot of light on the organic vs. conventional debate:
Why You Shouldn't Buy Organic Based on the Dirty Dozen
Are Lower Pesticides Residues a Good Reason to Buy Organic? Probably Not
Between the four of us who work full-time on the farm (Harold, Patsy, Ethan, and Frankie), we have a total of four degrees related to environmental resources. Sustainability is important to us. We define sustainability as "healthy people, planet, and profit." Meaning, we are doing our best to keep prices low, sell ultra-local high-quality produce, pay our workers high wages, and care for the planet. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask us.