At Willow Valley Farm we aim to supply the local food system with fresh fruit and vegetables while enhancing the land and natural resources around us. By taking care of our soil, wildlife habitat, and water resources, we ensure the future of our farm and its ability to provide these services.
Active soil life is an important aspect of sustainable farming. By creating the right balance of plants, nutrients, and microorganisms, we are able to avoid using synthetic fertilizers. This involves regular applications of compost and mulch. We grow our own rye straw for mulch and use other plant-based mulches, such as wood chips, paper, and living mulch (cover crops). These additions provide nutrients for our plants and large amounts of organic matter to feed the worms and microorganisms in the soil. We also use natural products such as garlic spray to protect our plants from pests and pathogens. We do not use GMOs, pesticides, or black plastic mulch.
“While the use of black plastic is allowed within organic agriculture, it is inherently unsustainable as it is a petroleum-based product and difficult to recycle. Every acre of land farmed using a black plastic system produces 100-120 lb of waste that typically goes to landfills. What’s more, when black plastic is used, 50-70% of a field is transformed into an impervious surface, increasing the volume of runoff by 40% and erosion by 80%.” – Rodale Institute, Beyond Black Plastic
The beautiful Fenton River valley is home to a variety of wildlife and native plants. We try our best to maintain this natural beauty by allowing wild plants to grow on the edges of our fields. This keeps our pollinators fed all season long and fosters the growth of other beneficial insects, which can help our vegetable crops. To some, this may look “messy”, but it is one of the many critical natural “products” we use to keep our crops healthy!
We follow GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) guidelines:
Good Agricultural Practices are guidelines developed by FDA (US Food and Drug Association) and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to help produce farmers reduce the chance that their products will be contaminated by foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes.
There is no regulatory requirement for farmers regarding a GAP food safety program.
GAP provides ways to reduce microbial contamination of fruits and vegetables produced on the farm. We still advise washing all produce before eating as a precaution.
We have taken the CT NOFA Farmer’s Pledge:
The Farmer’s Pledge is a commitment to farming, marketing and farm management in accordance with sound ecological and economic principles. It is separate and distinct from “Certified Organic.” There is no inspection process for the Farmer’s Pledge, but the farmers have signed the Pledge to show their commitment to its principles. CT NOFA administers the Farmer’s Pledge program in Connecticut. However, they do not investigate or make any guarantee that the individual farmer is complying with the Farmer’s Pledge.