This morning I had the pleasure of visiting with Ray Meylor at the Cherry Glen Learning Farm. We talked a little business but mainly about all of the great things they have done and are planning there as we walked around the property.
Winner of the 2016 Urban Ambassadors Project of the Year
Cherry Glen Farm is a small farm on a quest to bring real sustainability to our local agricultural lands. Located right by Saylorville Lake, and at the base of their watershed they have a unique opportunity to clean the agricultural runoff that flows towards one of the Des Moines metros main water sources.
They use two retention basins to capture this runoff, where it is stored and utilized for irrigation of their crops. The water is available all summer long and is high in nitrogen which gives the growing plants a nutrient boost. Sediment traps remove the suspended silt before it enters the catch basins where it would eventual fill and clog them.
The water system keeps the nitrogen and phosphorus (tied up in the sediment) from entering Saylorville Lake where it could contribute to toxic algae blooms, fish kills and the nitrate levels that need to be mitigated by the Des Moines Water Works.
The land had been in conventional agriculture production and research farm testing previously. The soil had been degraded and what remained was compacted, lifeless clay subsoil.
But that was before he started adding compost, wood chips and biochar to raise the organic matter which feed the soil life and increased its workability. This year they dug the sweet potatoes by with their bare hands, with some tubers as big as a squash!
In addition to vegetable production Cherry Glen Farm has started an agroforestry section with chestnuts and hazels, prairie plantings and keep many beehives going. While I was there Ray showed me his mite control process and the benefits of the plant diversity and herbs grown nearby. Thymol and Hopguard® are commonly used bee miticides, but are not used at Cherry Glen where thyme and hops are grown.
|Hives in the hoop house
|Mite control with warmth
The second main part of the farm is the learning center. This non-profit venture is setup to provide education for the community.
Through their partner organizations, group classes are scheduled to provide hands-on demonstrations of sustainable agriculture, healthy cooking and eating, financial resiliency and energetic and sustainable livelihoods.
Watch for more news and classes available from Cherry Glen Learning Farm on their website or by following their facebook page.
Read about my Permaculture Series coming soon!
Have a great week, and as I mentioned last week the colors are really popping!