Horse Power and Cover Cropping

  • Natural Roots Shelburne Falls Road Conway, MA, 01341 United States

We will discuss our use of five workhorses as the exclusive source of draft power on our farm. We will cover equipment and techniques for everything from primary tillage to bed forming, transplanting, cultivating, foliar feeding, mowing, crop harvesting, and more in the vegetable operation. We'll also touch on our process of harvesting loose hay to fuel the working herd. This visit will feature demonstrations of horse power on a few different implements in the field. We will also discuss the use of cover crops to target a variety of goals such as improving soil structure, maintaining organic matter, controlling weeds, and creating beneficial habitat as well as our approach to managing soil fertility and plant health. Technical considerations will be shared in the context of the philosophy which shapes and guides our approach to stewarding the farm ecosystem.
 
Natural Roots is a horse-powered family farm in Conway, MA, operating since 1997. We raise 3 1/2 acres of produce for about 200 CSA shareholders, plus our farm store and wholesale customers, and another 3 1/2 acres of soil-building crops. Many of the farm’s systems have been modeled on the work of Anne and Eric Nordell and we have a strong focus on weed control, biological fertility, and intensive cover cropping. A flock of about 200 pastured laying hens are integrated into the crop rotation.  We rely on our breeding boar and sow to turn our compost and to raise a couple of litters of hogs to butcher each year.  We also manage about 15 acres of hay and pasture land to feed our five workhorses and practice low-impact logging in the winter months.