Since we started farming in 1980 we have sought after methods of growing vegetables that satisfy our personal philosophies and the reason why we starting farming in the first place— to grow fresh vegetables that not only taste fantastic but are also healthy and nutritious. With this in mind, one of our greatest goals is to produce our crops by methods that will make the soil stronger and viable for generations to come. 

We take our responsibility as ecologically sound farmers very seriously. We're farming beyond our immediate short-term need to be profitable, working to maintain a continual balance between our practices and the backdrop of protecting the environment, including water quality, human health, soil productivity and the local community. We focus on replenishing what we take out of the soil and minimizing the impact that replenishment has on the world we live in.

Here at Crossroad Farm, we practice minimal or no employment of insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides. Our extensive use of preventative methods reduces the need for pesticides and many of our crops are grown without any sprays. If we have to use pesticides, we choose those that are approved for organic production. And we consider everything, right from the very start! We never use GMO seed. 

 

So, why are we not Certified Organic you might ask? For a number of reasons, we have chosen not to become Certified Organic. Our commitment to ecologically sound practices such as minimizing sprays is firm. We are also determined to maintain our prices at reasonable, competitive levels. Just because a substance utilized in farming is organic, does not make it safer or healthier for the consumer, laborer, farmer, or the ecology of the farm. For example, Copper Sulfate, a certified organic pesticide, is highly toxic to not only humans but also beneficial soil organisms, such as earthworms and bees. On the other hand, a synthetic alternative is almost completely nontoxic in all of these aspects; however, because it is not naturally-occurring, it is not certifiable. For us, it is essential that we move beyond a label and pursue sustainability in the most holistic way possible.

 
 

We grow a wide variety of crops, which enables us to disrupt disease and pest cycles without chemicals, as well as insulating us from the potential financial risk of any particular crop failure. Utilizing a detailed, long-term plan for rotating our crops between fields is just one, very important method for preventing disease and insect damage. Below you'll find descriptions of other preventative methods which we use instead of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

 

 

Cover Crops & Green Manures

We use cover crops, grown between cash crop cycles in order to reduce soil erosion and water pollution. These crops also help maintain nutrients in the soil. Green manures are crops grown to add nutrients, particularly nitrogen and organic matter, to the soil, thus feeding future crops.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

We coordinate use of pest and environmental information to design and implement pest control methods that are economically, environmentally and socially sound. IPM may not completely eliminate the use of all pesticides, but it endeavors to minimize their use while boosting crop return through the use of multiple, complementary techniques such as those described below.

Innovative Cultivation Techniques

Through precise timing of tractor and hand cultivation methods and the use of stale seedbeds, we can control the weeds without chemicals.  However, as sustainable farmers we recognize that increased tractor use is energy intensive and should be carefully used. 

Scouting

The process of carefully inspecting a crop for insects and diseases, both destructive and beneficial, allows us to sustain acute awareness of the condition of our crops and to address any pest control concerns early, for lower-impact management.

Thresholds

We use pesticides only if and when pest population densities will cause significant economic damage. We make a conscious effort to choose pest control materials that are relatively non-toxic to people with few environmental side-effects, many of which are approved for use in certified organic crop production.

Cultural Controls

These are modifications of the crop production system. For example, we implement sanitation practices that inhibit pest development, such as reintegrating crop residue to the soil immediately once harvesting is finished. Through nutrient and irrigation management, as well as alteration of planting times or plant spacing, we are able to optimize crop health while significantly limiting our use of chemicals.

Management of Beneficial Organisms

This is a method of biological control through the use of naturally-occurring or introduced beneficial organisms to regulate or suppress pest populations. Natural systems create equilibrium in the environment. Some insects that are harmless to our crops will organically control pests, if we are mindful of maintaining this equilibrium. In our philosophy, the natural enemies of pests that exist everywhere in nature should be preserved and encouraged whenever possible.

Row Covers

Row covers modify the crop environment by providing a barrier against insect damage as well as an insulating layer which helps regulate moisture and temperature for excellent, early yields.  We rely heavily upon the use of row covers to bring our customers very early crops of high quality.

 

If you'd like to learn even more, check out the videos below. Over the years Tim has contributed to a number of informational videos put together by Vern Grubinger and Buddy Tignor. 

On our weeding practices:

On our growing and maintaining practices: