When you reside in a farm, the evolution of the seasons presents an opportunity for learning and growth. This year, the fall colors of our 212 newly added blueberry plants, their reddish leaves contrasting vibrantly against the green carpet of our grass, made us rethink our approach to farming. It was during the visit of two permaculture experts last weekend that we began our journey towards sustainable farming practices, starting with our newest family members – the blueberry plants.

Blueberries, contrary to popular belief, aren’t best friends with grass. While the green carpet around our plants made for a pretty sight, it wasn’t exactly conducive for their growth. Grass is a competitor, siphoning off essential nutrients blueberries crave. Mulching was an option we considered. Yet, the permaculture experts explained that while helpful, mulching alone wasn’t sufficient. That’s when they introduced us to the idea of using pine shavings from our chicken coop.

Known for its acidity, pine complements blueberries quite well. Its natural decay can enrich the soil with acidic content, and that’s precisely what blueberries love. So, we decided to take their advice and added a layer of tan-colored pine shavings around each blueberry plant.

The farm’s transformation wasn’t limited to just the blueberries. We had one more project to complete – creating a hugelkultur. This mound of organic materials is essentially a self-feeding compost pile designed to improve soil fertility, water retention, and soil warming, thus benefiting the plants in the long term.

We identified a low point in our two acres, a spot that had suffered from erosion. We covered it with leftover cardboard from the blueberry mulching, piled it with old pine stumps and other wood debris. The idea was to let this pile decompose over time and inoculate it with mushroom spores in the future. Not only would this improve the quality of the soil, but it also served as an effective method of recycling our organic waste.

The first two years on the farm were a learning curve, involving a lot of manual work, especially watering over 200 blueberry plants individually. This process was not only labor-intensive but also incredibly time-consuming. That’s when Craig, my partner, decided to delve into researching a more efficient solution. His search led us to drip irrigation systems.

drip irrigation

After much research, we decided on a system by the Jain Company, the world’s largest micro drip irrigation manufacturer based in India. Unfortunately, directly ordering from India was too expensive, so we turned to their American distributor in California. We placed our order, and the wait began. After a six-month journey by ship, the package finally arrived at a west coast port.

With the arrival of our new irrigation system, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work once again. The journey of transforming our farm continues, bringing with it endless learning opportunities and the satisfaction of knowing we’re working towards a sustainable future. As we move forward, we can’t wait to see what other innovative and eco-friendly changes we can bring to our humble abode.

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  1. This is so amazing, what you built is amazing ??

    I am lost for words but I will love to come visiting the farm and enjoy the sauna ?

    1. Sorry for the late notice of your message. Thanks so much for the kind words, Beverly. The farm is not yet a commercial reality but more of a family experiment (with the sauna in our basement). Blueberries will hopefully be producing enough to sell next year. We would love to have you come visit when we’re really up and running.

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