One of the main reasons that we started this project was to be able to make a real difference in our environment. Growing up in Florida I have seen first hand the decline in water quality, and habitats for native animals. The future of Florida (and our planet) rests on the decisions that we all make daily. Supporting organizations and businesses that have a strong focus on environmental issues can be extremely effective at ushering in change, both in actions and culture. Below are just a few of the things that we do to make as big of a difference as possible. Also be sure to check out our reading list at the bottom of the page, where we have a list of books that helped inspire and educate us on how to effectively protect our planet and food supply.
Carbon Sequestration - The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is known to be a leading factor in climate deterioration ( global warming ), so removing carbon from the air is one of the most effective ways of combating climate change. As it so happens, plants breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But what happens to the carbon once the plant takes it in? The plants use it as a physical building block in the plant structure in its leaves, stem, roots etc. Once the plant finishes its life cycle, (or sheds leaves etc.) the old plant material dries up and decomposes. The remaining matter is mostly carbon. This carbon usually makes its way onto, or into the soil (that's what gives good dirt its black color) where it improves the quality of the soil and aids in nutrient transfer, water retention and general healthy soil structure. This process is called carbon sequestration as it is removing the carbon from the air, and transferring it into the soil. One of the most effective ways of doing this is properly managed grazing land. In this instance grass or forage is grown, and then eaten by animals. When this happens the roots of the plants die back below ground, decompose and then leave that carbon in the soil. The forage and grass regrows and starts the process over again. This improves the soil, sequesters the carbon underground and leaves the area above ground free to feed animals, and produce meat for human consumption. No till style vegetable farming is also a great way to sequester carbon. This is a basic explanation, and I'm certainly no scientist, so please take a few minutes to read this article from the University of Florida for a better, more technical explanation of carbon sequestration.
Drip irrigation - Water is extremely important everywhere, to be sure, however here in Florida both the quality of water, and amount of water usage is an extremely neglected topic. This is why we are very mindful of our water usage. We avoid using overhead irrigation whenever possible. In fact, the vast majority of our crops are watered using drip irrigation. This puts water directly at the base of the plants, right where its needed, and in very controllable amounts.
Recycled materials - We use compost to improve our soil quality (adding carbon,as mentioned earlier) and as our main fertilizer. We make a portion of our compost on site from crop residues, animal manure etc. We also bring in compost from a local soil farm that sources materials from grocery stores, landscape waste etc, items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Bees - We started our apiary in 2018 with one hive, and are planning on adding more in the future. Bees help with pollination and are necessary for many plants to make fruit. Declining bee populations of past years make it very important to make sure these critters stay present and healthy.
These are just a few items outlining our environmental commitment, please come by for a tour to see our many programs in action! Also if you have any questions or suggestions please contact us!
Reading suggestions - For some great reading please check out the books below!
Folks, This Aint Normal by Joel Salatin - Fantastic book by my favorite farmer about the state of our food system.
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin - Another great one from Joel about the legal difficulties of running an organic farm.
The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan - Michael takes a deep look into various food systems in America, from the cornfields of Iowa, to the beyond organic Polyface Farm in Virginia. A must read!
1491 by Charles C. Mann - In the book 1491 they detail life before Columbus arrived in "the new world". This book was written recently, using information from studies done as recently as the year 2000. It contains information that contradicts what most of us were originally taught about the ancient Americas. The reason that this book is relevant here is that it details how the Native Americans managed and tended the lands that they occupied, in a much better fashion than the Europeans and their soil destroying plow.
Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L Anderson And Donald R Leal - Although its not necessarily an easy read, this book gives a fantastic look at ways that private individuals and organizations can have huge positive impacts on the environment. Proper incentives and property rights often have greater real world impacts on environmental issues than government regulation.
Of course this is not an all inclusive list, they are some of my personal favorites. I welcome suggestions on new books to read, so if you have any, please let us know!