Going Green

Being farmers at heart, we’ve always had a need to do what we can to preserve the beautiful area we live in.  Over the years we’ve put a number of steps in place to be as environmentally conscience as possible.

Over the past few years we’ve gotten recognition for the work we’re doing to be sustainable, including being 1 of 2 greenhouses in North America to receive the first GPN Sustainability Progress Award in 2008.

Click on any of the links below to read additional articles, including USA Today.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2008-10-23-sustainable-farms_N.htm

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/2008/10/19/3rd-p-plugging-prairie.html

Successful Farming Article 2009, “Fields of Fuel” 

Everything grown onsite – our family grows everything on the farm starting from seeds or small cuttings of plants, so there is no trucking of finished plants before you purchase them in our retail greenhouse.  We have a special production greenhouse with open roof vents (below), so we don’t need to run fans to cool the greenhouse and plants get direct sun making them adapt faster when you take them home.

Ebb & Flow Bench

Ebb & Flow Bench

Open Air Greenhouses

Open Air Greenhouses

 

Water conservation – for several decades we’ve watered all the plants thru “ebb and flow” benching (above), which means we pump water into the bench, let the plants soak up the water and then drain the remainder back into a tub at the end of the bench to save for the next watering.  Besides saving a lot of water, the plants stay healthier since the foliage isn’t getting wet (and susceptible to disease).  For over a decade, we’ve taken the next step by collecting rain water onsite and using it to water the plants.

Heating thru renewable energy sources – as everyone is concerned about the increasing cost of gas for their cars/trucks, we’ve been seeing even sharper increases in natural gas prices for heating the greenhouses over the past decade.   Eric and Paul have changed the greenhouse heating to bio-mass boilers (at right) and currently working on making our own pellets from native prairie grasses, corn stover, etc., which are better renewable energy sources.  See Alternative Energy Solutions, LLC for more.

All-natural liquid Daniels (Nature’s Source) Fertilizer – everyone comments on how healthy our plants look.  We credit some of that to the fact that for more than ten years we have used a liquid fertilizer that is much “friendlier” to plants.  It’s a natural fertilizer, made from soybean extract, and thereby doesn’t burn the plant’s roots if it’s stressed.  We also sell the Daniels Fertilizer in the retail for use at home.

Rice Hull Mix

Soil Mix

Soil Mix made with renewable resources – we’ve been working for years to get the right mix of components to grow in, and in the past few years we’ve been primarily looking at alternatives to peat moss.  Our soil mix (pictured below) is now primarily made with Coir (Coconut fiber) and Rice hulls.  We also make a soil mix especially formulated for container gardening that can be purchased in our retail.

Organic pest & disease control – We don’t like having to spray chemicals anymore than our customers, so we’ve been working with beneficial bugs and compost teas for over 5 years.  We;re still learning how it all works, but so far it seems to be looking very promising.  Customers are always asking for “safer” means of treating bugs and fungus on their plants at home.  We have the best organic products on the market.

Bio-degradable pots & baskets – for a number of years we’ve used fiber hanging baskets and perennial pots, as well as Rice hull pots for the annuals.  Both the fiber and rice hull pots will break down in a compost pile or landfill within 2-3 years, but unfortunately they don’t break down fast enough to leave the plants in them when you plant in the ground.  Our goal, beyond getting rid of the use of plastics, is to find a pot that you can just put in the ground with your plant still in it and the roots will go right thru the pot.  We’re getting closer this year with a new pot (pictured at left) for the vegetables that has slits for the roots to grow right thru.

We’re never done searching for ways to improve the way we grow or “greener” ways to do it.  We’ll be sure to keep updating on what we’re doing.

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