What is Integral Ecology?
We do our best to manage our land as a practice of integral ecology. Although Pope Francis does not formally define the term, he notes that “An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us” (LS 225). Integral comes from the Latin integer which means whole. Ecology comes from “oikos” which means home, and “logos” which means logic. Thus integral ecology is the logic of the whole home, understanding ourselves to be at home on the land.
As a former organic certifier, I know and follow the National Organic Program Standards with the minor exception of using Veteran Compost's locally sourced food waste compost. This compost contains minute amounts of biodegradable bioplastics that are technically not on the National List of allowed synthetics, and hence the compost is disqualified from use.
Crop Rotation and Cover Crops
We plan our plots carefully so we can rotate plant families. By changing the location of plant families each year, we prevent the buildup of pest and disease populations. In conjunction with cover cropping, this practice gives the soil time to rest and rebuild it's nutrient base. We also select crop varieties that have natural disease resistance and are adapted to local conditions.
Integrated Pest Management
We plant wildflowers to attract beneficial insects and do not use synthetic pesticides or herbicides anywhere on our property. Keeping a health, balanced ecosystem minimizes the need for these inputs. When necessary, we do make use of natural fungicides like Regalia, which is a natural plant extract that is harmless to humans, animals, and insects.
We love compost! We compost our food scraps and vegetable food wastes, so we are sure to return to the soil what we take from it. We keep our animal manure compost in a separate pile for use on landscaping to minimize food safety risks.
Our lovely flock of laying hens enjoy a large paddock to roam. They get organic feed, and their diet is supplemented with insects that they forage and scraps of produce from the farm. We'll add another paddock and expand the flock next year.
We love our neighbors, friends, family, and volunteers. We also love that we can share our abundance with those in need. The farm is an amazing place for everyone to come together, reconnect with nature, and renew your spirit.