Saturday, October 25, 2008
FOOD: Large-scale Farming: Martens Farm
Organic farming is frequently associated with small-scale production. But growing food on a large-scale need not call for environmentally damaging practices. With careful management growers can expand their operations without compromising sustainable ethics.
HOW IT WORKS
Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens have been sustainably farming 1,300 acres of organic fresh vegetables and grain in Pen Yann, NY since 1991. To control weeds and improve the fertility of their land they employ practices such as diverse long-term crop rotation, under-seeding and actively increasing soil organic matter. By using these practices they have substantially reduced their reliance on oil-dependant fertilizers common on conventional factory farms.
The Martenses produce much of their grain for Lakeview Organic Grain, a company they founded, which distributes feed to organic dairy and chicken farms throughout the Northeast. Various local and national distributors buy their fresh vegetables and they also sell seed stock for Certified Organic oats and wheat.
In 2008 the Martens won the Patrick Madden Award for innovation, leadership and good stewardship from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Martenses prove that organic practices can be done at a large scale. Their careful management establishes the long-term productivity and sustainability of their farm while protecting the local environment and bolstering the local economy.
+ increases soil health and quality
+ eliminates chemical run-off
+ produces high-quality food