Our Practices

 

We are committed to providing our customers with the healthiest, highest quality, most environmentally-responsible and humane food around. Our holistic farm practices follow sustainable, natural models to enhance the health and productivity of our crops, livestock and fields. Although not certified organic, we are guided by the standards put forth by NOFA and USDA National Organic Program.

We manage the fertility of our fields using cover crops, rotations and our renowned "black gold" compost. We don’t use any conventional chemical fertilizer on our fields, nor any pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or other chemicals.

Our cattle and sheep are 99.99% grass-fed and grass-finished. We sometimes find that our sheep mommas need a little extra supplement of grain during the last few weeks of pregnancy as their babies get big and their stomachs get small but we don't feed our lambs grain. The pigs are raised outdoors on pasture and supplemented with vegetables, bread and fruit that comes from local supermarkets, as well as local Wirtes' grain. We ensure the health of all of our livestock through good old-fashioned hands-on management, and conscientiously avoid the routine use of antibiotics. We WILL use conventional antibiotics, wormers or similar medicines in critical, acute cases when absolutely necessary, but these instances are by far the exception that proves the rule while supporting our commitment to humane animal welfare practices. None of our livestock get any synthetic hormones of any kind.

So, all that sounds great—but why aren’t we certified organic? Good question. It’s primarily that our relationships with our customers/friends are a better guarantee than any third-party rules and its partly that we disagree w/ the organic rules on a few things and think our way is better for our land, customers, and the environment.

Let’s take the last one first: our differences with the USDA National Organic Program rule. Compost is the biggie. In addition to the leaves and livestock manure that makes up the vast bulk of our compost recipe, our compost also includes mixed food waste from a few grocery stores, institutional kitchens, and events like the annual Berkshire Grown Harvest Supper. “Mixed food waste” means that in addition to the funky squash, orange peels, coffee grounds and plate scrapings, we compost the waxed cardboard boxes in which the produce is shipped, as well as the paper napkins and compostable “plastic” plates, cups & cutlery from cafeterias and events. 

That said, organic certification would mean re-routing more of this compostable food waste to the incinerator or hauling it further to a different composter—both things that go against our goals of good environmental stewardship. We just haven’t found the big O to be a compelling part of our farm marketing. Instead, we invite you to visit the farm, check out what we do, ask us questions—we’re confident you’ll agree that we are growing the best, safest, most-environmentally-responsible and most humane food available.