We apply proven best practices from organic, biodynamic, permaculture, and urban farming techniques while creating our own based on our local environment. We do not subscribe to a specific practice but instead pick and choose what makes sense for us.
Starting with good clean soil is key to produce top quality produce. Since we are a no-till farm, we did not want to prep the land by rototilling the entire site. Thankfully for us, the starting soil was already a loose sandy loam, perfect for growing crops. Yet, we knew that we would still face the challenge of weeds. Instead of fearing the weeds, we let them work for us by letting them grow and bring minerals to the surface where they can be used by our crops. After raking clear debris from the fields, we planted buckwheat at a very high proportion to the ground. Buckwheat has the fantastic ability to grow very rapidly and choke out native weeds. For eight weeks, we let buckwheat and weeds alike grow out of control. Just after flowering, we mowed the buckwheat down and laid a black tarp over the area to allow the microorganisms to digest the buckwheat and also cause another season of weed seeds to germinate and die. In all, this process took 12 weeks to prep the soil prior to planting the first seed.
Since we are located in San Diego, we have the luxery of the ability for year round farming. As a result, we try whenever possible to plant directly with seed rather than transplants. This yields healthier, faster growing plants. Sometimes this isn’t always practical, but we try our best.
There are a lot of variables that go into producing fruits and vegetables. We have to be aware of sun exposure, nutrients, pests, irrigation, time to germination and harvest, among many other factors. Natural farming can sometimes be interpreted as “do nothing” farming, simply not using pesticides or herbicides and hoping for the best. But this is not the case for a productive natural farm. Instead, we use more holistic management of weeds, pests, and water. Whenever possible, we intercrop multiple complimentary crops, which increases biodiversity and bed yields. Tomatoes and basil are a classic example. Basil helps repel pests and the tomatoes help shade the basil during the warm summer months. Additionally, we deliberately plant some of our beds with flowers. This isn’t because we sell them but instead want the increased color, fragrance, pollinator attractants, and general increase in biodiversity that they bring.
One of the reasons why farm fresh fruits and veggies taste so much more flavorful is because of the time and method of picking. Grocery store items, even ones that market themselves as having fresh produce, still harvest far in advance of when the produce is ripe. This results in lackluster flavor and diminished nutrients. At Historic Foods, we harvest at the peak of ripeness to get the maximum flavor and nutrient benefit for our customers.