Wednesday, February 11, 2009

About Churchview Farm

In 2006 my husband Todd and I moved to what had been my grandparents’ small farm, located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. With help from our parents we spent that summer renovating the small three-bedroom farmhouse where my father and his nine brothers and sisters grew up, and moved in October. This amazing piece of land, on a hilltop surrounded on three sides by woods, is a place where I spent a large portion of my childhood – picking berries with my grandmother, tagging along when my grandfather fed the pigs, cows and chickens, and spending time with my parents and myriad cousins. My grandparents were homesteaders, feeding their family with the produce they grew and preserved, and the meat and dairy from the animals they raised. And in a time before all-natural growing methods were trendy or widely practiced, they utilized them on their farm.

We have never used chemicals, pesticides or herbicides on the farm. The soil is supplemented with composted manure from a nearby farm, compost that we make on the property, and with organic minerals and soil amendments. We practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and crop rotation, and this year I will begin using a combination of cover crops and living mulch to amend the soil. Though we use organic, sustainable and all-natural growing practices, we are not certified organic. Organic certification is a daunting, time consuming and very expensive process that is not practical for many very small farms. Also, organic certification does not always necessarily equal sustainable practices. Sustainability involves the production of safe, healthy food while respecting all aspects of the farm - nurturing the soil, treating the animals humanely, and working with the natural ecosystem. In essence, it is about striving for a completely self-sufficient system – the farm using all of its natural resources to sustain itself. We are moving toward a completely sustainable system.

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