We are often asked, “What is sustainable farming?” Farming, generally speaking, is the growing of food. To grow food, we depend on natural resources like soil, water, air, plants, and animals. We input energy in the form of our own work, fossil fuels, and “organic fuels” in the form of fertilizers/compost, minerals, and trace elements. So what is it that distinguishes sustainable farming? Simply put, sustainable farming uses methods that benefit people, the economy, and the environment all at the same time. We see our farm, for example, as a system of interrelated parts that work together and benefit each other and the world. Several of our primary sustainable farming goals include the following:
* Using practices, tools, and techniques that protect, conserve, and improve farm ecology and the world’s environment
* Minimizing off-farm inputs and recycling and reusing on-farm products
* Producing fresh, nutritious food to market locally
The benefits of sustainable farming are rich and numerous. Sustainable farming improves soil microbial health and creates higher organic matter. It also enhances water conservation. Additionally, it promotes natural disease and pest control and increases the health and diversity of the pollinator community. The common practice of saving seeds reduces production costs and preserves diversity. The use of alternative energy reduces the use of fossil fuels and decreases pollution. Certainly, sustainable farming increases a healthy lifestyle for the farmer and his/her family. Ultimately, the nutrition and flavor of locally grown foods are increased for the consumer, and the support for the local economy grows when consumers buy locally produced foods. In the end, sustainable farming fosters a wonderful sense of community.