Members of our community continue to let us know how grateful they are that our 150 acre community farm is not a housing development…so are we! But more important to us is that the land is enrolled in a conservation program and we are taking care of our soil. We love the beautiful landscape of Loudoun County and are happy to be preventing land degradation in our county. Land degradation is the process of deterioration of soil or loss of the soil fertility and can occur due to inappropriate land management, construction, and road building.
Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years, and because of this our produce has lost nutritional benefits! The quality of your garden’s soil is important to the success of your plants. The healthier and full of nutrients your soil is, the more nutrients your food will have. Another benefit of healthy soil is that it helps your plant withstand harsher environments. In order to keep our soil healthy, we do soil testing, make soil amendments, and plant cover crops.
Cover crops are low maintenance soil builders that give back nutrients, suppress weeds, manage pests and diseases. We planted our cover crops four weeks before the first frost to improve our soil quality and prevent soil erosion. Our favorite cover crop this year was buckwheat! It blooms within 40 days, suppresses weeds and attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees!
Soil testing and analysis evaluates the soil’s nutrient potential. Based on the results of your soil testing, you know what amendments are necessary. Compost is a great soil amendment that increases the organic content of your soil. Compost is made from decomposed organic materials such as garden trimmings and food scraps. The beneficial microorganisms in your compost pile will break down the waste until it becomes an unrecognizable substance. With the use of compost we can implement as many minerals as can into the soil, improve soil fertility, and suppress weeds. Composting organic waste is one of the best things you can do for the environment! It keeps organic materials from landfills, thus reducing the release of greenhouse gasses, and creates nutrient rich material for growing a wide variety of plants and crops.
We keep our soil healthy to grow many varieties of nutrient dense produce for people in our community facing food insecurity, and to keep Loudoun County beautiful. The pesticides and other chemicals that are used in conventional farming techniques are damaging to soil composition and disrupts the microorganisms in the soil, so remember to support organic farming! It is healthier for you and our environment.