AHF is Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) which means that we have made a firm commitment to farm without synthetic inputs or GMOs. It also means that our farm is managed to foster biodiversity and ecological balance.
For folks who aren’t familiar with CNG, it’s a national organization based in Brooklyn that offers peer-review certification to close to 900 farmers and beekeepers in the US and Canada who are producing food for their local communities by working in harmony with nature, without relying on synthetic chemicals or GMOs. There are also certification programs for livestock, mushroom, and aquaponic operations. But here’s what I really love about CNG: 1) it is only for the direct market farmer who is selling produce locally, 2) it offers a peer review certification process (based on the PGS model) which relies on transparency and direct relationships between farmers. This helps to establish local networks of like-minded farmers, fosters collaboration & provides an opportunity for knowledge sharing. And, 3) decisions about many policy decisions are member driven. It’s pretty awesome.
Here are a few cool things that we do to promote sustainability at Amazing Heart Farm:
- We practice crop rotation for pest control
- And use cover crops and compost to build up the soil.
- We use rain water and overflow from our well.
- We use HUGELKULTUR, an ancient form of sheet composting in which rotting wood and other organic matter are buried beneath mounds of topsoil. As the buried wood decomposes, it builds soil fertility, and improves drainage as well as moisture retention. Our largest hugelkultur bed is about 2160 square feet and actually beneath the ground (the ground was clay). The hugelkultur bed is 2.5 feet deep and filled with 30 cords of wood, 40 mid-sized bales of rotting hay, 24 yards of leaf mulch, and 40 yards of mushroom soil.
- We have a HOOP HOUSE that we use for season extension. In addition, we use agribon row covers (also used for insect control) and occasionally we use plastic mulch.
- We start seeds in a greenhouse equipped with RADIANT FLOOR HEATING and a SOLAR THERMAL system. The walls of the greenhouse are made from polycarbonate plastic siding, using passive solar to heat the greenhouse during the day. The solar thermal system helps to keep the floor temperature in the greenhouse between 70-80 degrees during the winter months. In the summertime, the excess energy from the solar thermal system is used to heat the hot water in our home.