Creating New Fields
Turning unproductive white clay into a working field can take several years. It takes patience, knowledge and considerable investment. We started working on this field in 2008, and are expecting to harvest our first crop of oats in 2011. Everything we do is in-line with maintaining our organic certification.
After the trees were cut, Murray spent 7 months picking up rocks and clearing stumps. Once the land was cleared of obstacles, he broadcast organic hairy vetch seed. The hairy vetch was harrowed in after it had flowered and again gone to seed. We spread chicken litter the following year, and harrowed that in. We then broadcast lime, harrowed it in and finally planted chickling vetch. You can see how rough the field still was in this photo, and how spotty the hairy vetch covering was the year it was planted.
The hairy vetch, which continually reseeds itself, started filling in during the third year. You can see in the background how rough some parts of the field still are, and some remaining bare patches. This vetch was again harrowed in when it was in full bloom. We spread chicken litter from the Thomas farm, just a half-mile up the road from us, each year.
Hairy vetch in full bloom.
Close-up of flowering Hairy vetch. This gets turned in, adding organic matter and nitrogen to the soil. This increases the fertility of the soil, enabling it to support future crops.
After 4 years of land preparation, a beautiful crop of certified organic oats was finally harvested in June, 2011.
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