Thankful for the Land November 24, 2014
It is restoration development season on the farm. Each autumn, we take a look at areas of the farm that are not cultivated to crops, where there’s an opportunity to increase biodiversity. These areas fall into two categories: field borders and wild areas.
The wild areas are places on the farm that can’t be farmed or have been selected not to be farmed. There is a large strip of land that borders the creek. Each winter, the run-off from rain makes the creek swell with rushing water and this piece of land is swallowed. When the creek dries, the land is always a little different. Large trees stumps are deposited onto it, old mounds of soil are flattened, and new mounds are created. This is my favorite wild area on the farm. Not too far from it is a small triangle of soil that is too rocky to farm and beyond that is a two-acre rectangle of beautiful land that had been permanently dedicated to the growing of an oak tree grove.
The field borders of the farm are more predictable. They follow the gravel roads that move equipment and people around the farm. They are the little pieces of land at the edges of fields that tractors cannot reach. They are the little strips of land that accompany the irrigation canals. They are the ditches and sediment traps that are reserved all year to enable free water to drain from the farm to the creek.
These pieces of land are the treasures that enable us to manage a production system in partnership with the local flora and fauna. It is here that we preserve the biodiversity of our farm and differentiates our farming methods from many more conventional growers. These areas are not there by accident. Without investment into these areas, they will breed weed seeds that will cause issues in our fields and be less capable of promoting biodiversity. We are mimicking a naturally biodiverse landscape in these areas, which attracts beneficial insects as well.
This year, we have partnered with the USDA and the Center for Land-Based Learning to plant 2,500 feet of our field borders into hedgerows of California Native plants selected to foster a population of beneficial insects. On our own, we leveled several acres of land in the wild area by the creek to plant a mixture of grasses, grains and clovers to encourage the wildlife to sustain them.
It is true that this is one of my favorite things to do. There is a great satisfaction that comes to our family when we know that the insects and resident wildlife can thrive outside of our fields, but also on our farm.
I am thankful for the opportunity to farm and preserve this land, and I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy fall’s bounty at your table, and thank you for being part of our farm family.
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