Though the farm is not pursuing organic certification at this time, the farm follows organic recommendations as outlined by the USDA, is fertilizer and pesticide-free, and practices sustainable agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, companion planting, crop diversity, cover cropping, integrated pest management strategies, and water conservation efforts.
In order to initiate preparations for the new property and under advisement from our Operations Advisory Board, arrangements were made with a local contracting company to install tiling for drainage. Since this field is lower in elevation and susceptible to flooding, drainage tiling is a significant investment in flood prevention for many seasons to come.
Once the ground was prepared with drainage tiles, the Operations Advisory Board voted to deep plow the field in an effort to target several primary benefits: effectively kill grass roots, work in compost and organic matter to improve soil quality, address varying elevation levels at the site to prevent flooding, break up the heavy clay layer to improve oxygen and water filtration at the farm site, and improve soil workability. A rough deep plow occurred in November of 2017 to be followed by a thorough tilling in March 2018.
After this initial investment in land preparation, caution will be paid toward maintaining soil structure by no-till practices, which have been shown to improve soil structure, decrease erosion, increase yields, reduce weeds, and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. Land preparation strategies on the farm’s permanent beds will primarily focus on polyethylene tarps, a broad fork, and occasional reliance on a walk-behind, two-wheel rototiller that disrupts fewer than 6 inches of topsoil.
The campus farm practices the highest standards in food safety, with Food Safety Plans for both field and greenhouse operations. The Farm Manager and Sustainability Director are Food Safety certified by the Produce Safety Alliance and each student intern completes food safety training with the Farm Manager upon hire.