Youth Farm: Soil Health and Dump Truck Adventures
Soil is at the heart of any healthy and productive farm. At the heart of soil health is organic matter. At the Youth Farm we take a multifacitated approach to soil health, practicing rotations, cover cropping, mulching, living mulching, composting (all of which I will cover in time), generally putting good love in the soil, and dumping lots of manure. Aged or composted manure is both rich in organic matter and nitrogen, feeding the soil, feeding the plant.
What we often consider as “fertility” in soil is generally made up of what was once living materials, otherwise known as organic matter, which in turn becomes humus; and the minerals in the soil. Farmers love humus. They love humus because it helps to make nutrients available to plants, to regulate moisture in the soil, and generally create a more stable environment. The environment in the soil, under our feet is more complex than I can claim to fully understand (thank you many teachers),
but what I do know is that to have healthy soil, you need to incorporate lots of composted material, protect as best you can, and be thoughtful with it.
So all this aged manure, it has to come from somewhere, and get moved somehow?? The first part of the question, on my end at least, can be answered fairly easily; the cow, and the auction yard. Cow comes to auction yard, cow poops, we like cows so there is lots of poop, poop gets trucked to the PEAS farm. Now I step in with a 1954 Studebaker that I am both afraid of and exhilarated by. In my week of hauling poop across town, the truck had two break-downs of a sort, it ran out of gas (the gas gauge definitely does not work), my occasional co-pilots had to be brave, I met a great mechanic, and in the end (or close to it), we shoveled out the back of the temporarily broken- down truck with three teenage girls who live at the Tom Roy Youth Home and were working hard, laughing, and having fun! It was a good week.
So here is to building our soil health at the Youth Farm, our humus, our manure piles, and our teens!