,Why are we different and why should you buy our produce?
My inflated sense of ego is about to babble on about fancy farming practices from way up here on my eco conscious moral high ground. But before I do, there is one important piece of information that I believe is the most important reason to support your local grower. You better buckle up cos it’s pretty revolutionary and I’m pretty sure I’m the first person to have thought of it (lie). Local flowers look and last longer. (I told you it was good). It's true though, rather than being imported from overseas, our flowers are harvested the day of, or night before they meet the customers hands which guarantees freshness and longevity. Local farms equal better local community and resilience. That’s simple maths even my small brain can figure out.
No-till or No-dig is as the name suggests. You don’t till or obstruct your soil as much as possible. Tillage has traditionally been used to break up and aerate soil before seeding crops buutttt unfortunately it isn’t the best thing (it’s real bad bro) for the soil. When those big ol tines turn over the soil, microbial activity is damaged and even destroyed, water is unable to permeate-leading to run off and erosion, weeds seeds are exposed and germinate, our friend carbon is released into the atmosphere contributing to the big arse global greenhouse we are creating (climate change folks). I could go on, but I’ve depressed myself. Hold on though, we can prevent this, and this is where no-till comes in. No-till’s strength is in its emphasis on microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms are absolute rock stars and pillars of healthy soil. These are your worms, fungi, protozoa and nematodes to name a few. These little guys have many roles involved in determining fertility and long term health. These include:
Releasing nutrients from organic matter
Water retention and drainage
Binding particles into aggregates
We love no-till at Frances Cecil for its simplicity. For bed preparation we use a broadfork and rake. That’s it. Mind you broadforking is a serious workout those things weigh a tonne. Anyhoo, we created our no-till beds by putting compost directly onto the ground and woodchips in the pathways. In doing so, all the effects of tillage were avoided. Whilst the initial job of putting compost down nearly broke Paris’s spirit and gave her a lifetime of back pain, the end result is not only a sustainable system, but a regenerative, soil building foundation for our farm.
Insect positive: I hate huntsman’s as much as the next guy and fruit fly you have absolutely no redeeming qualities you are the worst, but other than that we do follow an insect positive philosophy at Frances Cecil. That is, we correct the cause of pest problems or rather prevent pest problems by creating biological active soil that promotes resistance to diseases and pests. We have even gone so far as to introduce beehives, bird and insect houses and a perennial bee garden that attracts beneficial insects to the absolute delight of our anaphylactic neighbour. (She’ll be fine she’s 10).
A soil blocker is basically a scone cutter for soil. These self contained, lightly compressed soil brownies allow seedlings to be air pruned and reduce transplant shock. We use soil blocks to reduce the need for single use plastic pots and trays. Do we use them for every transplant? Uhh no, soil blocking is a little time consuming so we do occasionally use trays. We aren’t perfect here, but we’re giving it a go.
There is a lot of noise and connotation surrounding the word ‘organic’. The dictionary defines it as the production of food without chemical fertilisers and pesticides and that’s the definition we follow. Are we certified? No. Someone mentioned something about a truckload of paperwork and Paris’ eyes started to glaze over. Will we become certified in the future? Organic certification is a whole can of worms but something we are certainly open to explore in the future.
Minimal Plastic Use
In any business, waste is inevitable but we do try to reduce our waste as much as possible. All our flowers are wrapped in recyclable brown paper and no flower foam or nasty floral preservative is used. We use jars to deliver bouquets that we then use again and again.
Bio-Intensive sounds so complicated and sciencey but it just means maximising yield using minimum space. Our farm is less than ¼ of an acre so we focus on quick rotation, high yielding crops.