How Sustainable Farming Practices Affect Health

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Well, here at Green Hart Farms seeding has already begun. And it’s only February.

Yes, it’s still winter; but there are some crops that have to be in the ground this early. So, even though we still have snow outside, the miracle of growth has already begun – indoors.

As I plant more seeds and watch the little plants poke their way through the soil’s surface, I ponder the miracle of it all. The whole process begins with just a tiny seed. That tiny seed, shriveled and dry doesn’t look like much. It just lies there, dead-looking until it is provided with the conditions it needs to spring forth into life.

It’s hard to believe that that seed will grow into something good!  To be shared with you at the market or through our Hartshare veggie box program. 

As it sprouts, bursting forth from its skin, it draws on the nutrient pack built in to the seed itself. Nature has provisioned it with just what it needs to get off to a strong start.

Just like a packed lunch however, the contents of that packet are soon devoured and the little plant needs something more to draw upon – if it is to grow beyond just a sprout.

It turns to the soil for much needed nourishment. If the soil is healthy it provides what the tiny sprout needs to grow further. The little plants continue to grow and mature. Eventually bearing fruit.

But what if the soil is exhausted? What if the life of the soil is depleted? What if the soil dries hard from lack of water?

The plant suffers, becomes sickly, stunted or even dies without delivering up a harvest at all. The outcome is not good.

That’s what happens when farming is not done in a sustainable manner.

If the soil is not cared for, its ecosystems ignored and neglected year after year, whatever crops are grown on it yield less and less.

The soil gets depleted and run down. Just like a bank account continually drawn upon and inadequately replenished, it becomes empty.

The farmer’s task becomes ever more challenging as crops are malnourished and stressed. The yields decline unless more and more fertilizers and harsh chemical pesticides are applied to rescue his crops. The plants themselves are no longer able to withstand the stressors they once did with relative ease.

The plants being less healthy can only produce less healthy harvests. For the nutrients lacking in the plant are now lacking in the harvest too.

It may still look good, but do we really know how nutrient dense it really is?

Those who consume the harvest get the nutrients it carries. And so the health of the soil comes to be reflected in the health of those who eat of what’s grown there.

That’s why sustainable farming practices matter. It’s not about short term profits. It’s about long-term health and prosperity. It’s about restoring the balance of nature with the purpose of maximizing health and vitality for those who farm and the communities we supply.

That’s why we farm the way we do. It’s why we avoid using chemical salt-based fertilizers, genetically-modified seeds and large areas devoted to just one crop. It’s why we invest in seed to be planted and grown merely to be plowed under to feed the soil. It’s why we continue to plant trees year after year, even though the benefits will come to another generation. It’s why we take the trouble to make compost right on our farm. It’s why we use a variety of mulches to retain moisture and put carbon back into the soil.

Most of these processes cost more, in the short term. Some take an investment of extra cash while others involve more time and labour. We invest these extras today because we associate sustainable farm practices with better health, for ourselves and the communities we serve.

In the process we grow a wide variety of crops. In 2017, we grew 46 different varieties of vegetables. This year we look forward to adding a few more.

We invite you to give them a try through our Hartshare veggie box program.

Everything we grow, we grow right here just outside New Hamburg. Everything we sell is locally grown. Why eat what has traveled thousands of miles, consuming non-renewable energy for the journey, while losing its own life energy over those long miles, when you can have quality produce grown right in our community??

That’s why this month, our feature recipe is for sweet potatoes . While not available fresh-picked today from local farmers, they are excellent right out of storage.

It’s also why we’ve developed an innovative veggie box program to bring local, sustainably grown vegetables right to your door.

If you are not a part of that community yet, we invite you to join us.

To your health,

From all of us at Green Hart Farms

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