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A Long-Term Investment in Food and Produce

We’ve all heard the words “sustainable farming” but unless you’re a farmer,
you probably don’t know what it means to use sustainable practices. To learn
more about what goes into sustainable farming, we talked to Ben Priesgen of
Country Blossoms Organics, LLC, a certified organic family farm in
Southeastern Wisconsin. Country Blossoms Organics grows organic produce,
herbs and flowers and operates a Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) that
delivers produce to homes and businesses near the farm. Country Blossoms
Organics also grows hemp used in AbbyChristopher products.

You Want the Soil to Work for You

When asked to give a short definition of sustainable farming, Priesgen is quick
to respond, “The goal of sustainability is to keep the soil healthy so you can
garden year after year.” He explains that Country Blossom Organics uses a 6-
year rotation cycle for its crops to help accomplish this. Rotation is important
because planting the same crop in the same place exhausts the soil of
nutrients and decreases yields. At Country Blossom Organics, crops rotated
from field to field each year include garlic, potatoes, carrots, beans, and
tomatoes. In addition to rotating crops, Priesgen says they also plant cover
crops in fields during the off-season to restore depleted nutrients in the soil.
These cover plants include clover and buckwheat. “What we do is plant cover
crops, let them grow and then till them under,” he explains. This process add 
organic matter, fixes nitrogen, and improves soil structure among other
benefits.

Using Eco-System-Based Pest Controls

Another sustainable practice Priesgen employs is planting flowers near his
crops and using tree barriers to surround fields. These serve to keep bugs off
the plants without using pesticides, and they also minimize erosion. When
asked how trees and flowers help with bugs, Priesgen explains that the flowers
and trees provide an alternative habitat and food source for insects. “They’re
happy in their natural environment, so they’ll leave the crops alone.”
There are other sustainable practices we didn’t cover in this article, but in short
sustainable farming is a long-term investment in our food system that helps
ensure we’re delivering healthier, fresh food to consumers and making sure the
land can continue to produce food in the future. “It truly is about getting the
soil to work with you, and not against you,” Priesgen says. “It’s like building a
partnership with the soil."