Welcome to Sylvanus Farm
Welcome to Sylvanus Farm

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Sylvanus Farm

Why Grow Grain?

“Vegetables are good for you, but without carbohydrates, we cannot live. It is important to me that our CSA meet a more significant percentage of the caloric needs of our members.” -Todd Elliott, Farmer

GrainsThe Ancient Roman writers Cato, Varro, and Virgil make references to early crop rotation practices. Medieval Europeans used a 3-field system. In the eighteenth century, English farmers developed the Norfolk rotation. Today, crop rotation remains a viable tool for creating a sustainable farm ecosystem.

The heart of long term crop rotation’s success is in allowing the soil to rest in sod. Growing clovers and grasses adds organic matter and nitrogen to the soil. Cattle pastured on clovers and grasses add fertility to the soil in the form of manure. Grains such as wheat, barley, and oats are planted at the same time as the clover and grass.

While the plants are growing, the grain plants protect the young clover and grass seedlings from the elements. After the grain is harvested, the remaining straw acts as mulch and contributes organic matter to the soil. The clover and grass grow through the mulch, which the cattle then graze on.

Corn needs the high nutrition environment of freshly turned sod. The corn leaves behind stalks, contributing organic matter and leaving perfect conditions for potatoes or tomatoes, which thrive in soil that was less recently sod.

A good crop rotation prepares the soil for the needs of the next crop. The more diverse crops being grown, the better it is for the soil and all the plants in the rotation.

Sowing Hope
Wendell Berry

GrainsIn the dark of the moon,
In the flying snow,
In the dead of winter,
War spreading,
Families dying,
The world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside
Sowing clover.


Source: "February 2, 1968"

 

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