By: Kisni and Acacia
As a class, we all traveled over to Forestdale Farm on Wednesday, March 28th. Located very near to town, down a winding dirt road off of Butler, it was surprisingly accessible. When we arrived we all made our way up the driveway, meeting the personable and friendly Rylan, founder of Forestdale Farm. He proceeded to educate the group about the operations of Forestdale Farm. It is a 2 acre farm, founded 5-6 years ago. It has a healthy following and currently makes most of its revenue through its CSA (community supported agriculture) program and through seasonal markets. Forestdale Farm sells eggs, salad mixes, and other produce. The farm functions quite, requiring minimal input, as it was designed to be as much of a closed system. The farm has chickens, turkeys, fish for aquaponics, and many greenhouses and raised beds. Most structures on the farm were constructed from reclaimed materials, such as old greenhouses, found objects, and military shipping containers.
Raised beds dominated the majority of the acreage dedicated to farming, serving to deter pests, conserve water, and aid in the development of soil. Most were covered with hoop structures to allow tarp coverage, protecting the young plants from late frosts. The chickens on the farm play an important role on the farm, providing crucial nutrients to the soil via their waste. The forty or so chickens also provide eggs to the CSA members. The roosters present deter predatory birds from preying on the hens and are also used to breed more chicks. The chickens also consume scraps and control pests on the farm. There is a fourteen or so foot deep pond on the farm, serving as a rainwater catchment and as a home for the catfish and bass kept around to nitrify the water, that is then used for irrigation throughout the season. The pond is much deeper than it is wide, conserving the valuable resource by limiting evaporation.
The farm was a wonderful example of how polycultures can be employed to benefit a farm for profit. After our tour, Rylan assigned tasks for us to do as small groups. We mulched a driveway area, mulched new paths throughout the farm, wrote out plant labels for the coming season, filled up sandbags to use as tarp weights, and more! We all gathered for a joyful group photo at the end of our time at Forestdale Farm, courtesy of Rylan. It was a lovely experience. Information about the farm and their CSA can be found at https://forestdalefarm.com/ .