We believe strongly in the importance of healthy, local food; and we believe that food can only be as healthy as the soil from which it is procured. Last year we joined The Citizens Science Soil Health Project to help us understand what impacts our management practices have had on our soils. To measure results we have been using the Haney Soil Test. Our Soil Health Scores are currently averaging around 30. The normal Colorado score range is 2-15, the top of the normal range for anywhere in the country is 30. 50 is the best possible score. Last year our soils averaged a score of around 20. We are thrilled to be learning and participating in this group, and thrilled to be learning how to improve our soils so greatly.
Until recently, the soil food web (the living component of the soil) was the most overlooked part of agricultural systems. In fact, most industrial agriculture uses an inert and lifeless medium in which to grow plants. Scientists are only now scratching the surface when it comes to understanding the importance of the billions of living organisms found in a handful of healthy soil and upon which our lives literally depend.
Our focus is on stewarding the health of the ecological processes on our farm; well functioning ecosystems grow healthy plants, animals, and people as a byproduct. We do not believe that the chemical inputs utilized in industrial agriculture improve overall soil vitality and we do not use them. We feed compost (usually out of the back ends of our animals), woodchips (from a local tree trimmer), soil probiotics (microryza fungi), and occasionally things like volcanic ash and kelp to our soils. Our livestock do the lion’s share of the work of incorporating these amendments into the soil with their golden hooves, claws, and snouts.
Our livestock eat what they can forage in our fields and what we can forage for them in Boulder, along with an abundance of sprouted and fermented fodder that we grow for them here and apple cider vinegar that we supplement their feed with in order to support their internal digestive ecosystems. (Animal and human digestion being a whole other topic that we will not go into here.)