Good Keeper Farm
Matt Lowe & Julie Henninger
All our animals are raised on pasture. Chickens and turkeys live in open-bottomed pens, shaded and protected from predators, and are moved daily to a new patch of grass. Our cattle are grassfed and are also moved to new pasture each day or two during the growing season. We grow a rich variety of vegetables, including many for winter storage. Varieties suited to storage are called "good keepers." To achieve top quality, we focus first on the ongoing process of growing living soil. Careful stewardship of diverse soil life unlocks nutrition for plants and nurtures enemies of crop pests and diseases. We also select resistant varieties and do some seed saving to pass on genes of the most successful plants. We use physical barriers such as row cover and insect netting to exclude challenging bugs like cucumber beetles and flea beetles. Crop rotation and other traditional practices contribute to these efforts. We also use organic-approved pesticides. Typically these are soaps for soft-bodied insects like aphids (Safer Soap), or preparations of naturally-occurring bacteria or fungi for other pests (Bt and Regalia). We use no herbicides. We rely instead on cultivation (disturbing soil to kill weed seedlings, aka hoeing) and mulches (plant material, plastic sheeting, and landscape fabric) to reduce weed competition for crop plants.