Here at Ten Speed Farm, I grow handsome, tasty vegetables and sell them locally – right here in Brattleboro. My goals are simple: to feed my community with delicious local produce, and to take good care of my farmland.
This is not to say that farming is a simple profession – farmers have to be much more than we seem. At times we must also assume the role of carpenter, plumber, soil scientist, writer, and promoter. This is all in addition to tasks that are truly related to growing food! But, here’s a secret: I believe that my most important job as a farmer is to be a careful observer. When I go to work each day, my to-do list is based on weather forecasts, observations I’ve made in the past week, and also what I remember about past seasons.
Observing changes in my land and the crops I grow makes me a more informed, intelligent, and (dare I say) intuitive farmer. When I record changes in soil nutrient levels, and crop production rates (for example) year after year, or write a few thoughtful sentences in my farm notebook at the end of each day, this provides me with the information I need to grow healthier produce, and to be certain that I’m properly caring for my farmland. I love my job, and I am proud to be a farmer.
My farm’s namesake (the ten speed bicycle) serves many purposes. I do rely on my beloved bicycle for transportation whenever possible. The bicycle is also a fairly simple solution to a big problem – “How do I get from here to there?” My farm’s name serves as a constant reminder: the best solution to any problem is often the simplest one. As Ten Speed Farm’s sole farmer, I search for ways to (as the old saying goes) “work smarter, not harder.”
I do not use any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers on the farm. Instead, I choose to focus on soil fertility and health. Healthy soil produces nutritious, handsome vegetables. One of the other benefits to having healthy soil is that it will host thriving beneficial insect populations. This, in turn, all but eliminates the need for pesticides. Awesome!
To achieve the healthiest possible soil, I use green manures (cover crops), and add minerals and composted animal manure. I also rotate crop locations from year to year, and give each piece of land a fallow period to restore soil structure and fertility.
“So,” you may ask, “Why aren’t you certified organic?”
Well, I’m so glad you asked! I’m fortunate to live in a community that’s small enough for me get to know my customers, most of whom come to the farm every week to pick up vegetables. When people visit the farm, they can see for themselves how I manage my land. I’m grateful that my customers trust me, and they know that they can always ask questions about how their food is produced. My wonderful customers make organic certification irrelevant. I choose to rely instead on communication and trust.