Sustainable you say?
What being Sustainable means to Inwood Community Farm....
For ICF, Sustainability is an incredibly important factor to the management of the farm. The farm itself is working to become self sustaining by producing enough fresh fruits and vegetables to both offer to the general public for sale as well as enough to donate to local food banks and other individuals in need. While our main passion and joy is sharing food with others and teaching others the benefits of eating fresh, the reality is that without money coming in to support the non-profits efforts, we cannot survive. I believe a common misconception is that Non-Profit = endless donations. Unfortunately, this is far from reality. We GREATLY appreciate the donations received, but the reality is that without the additional funds raised by selling produce to the general public, we would not be able to continue this wonderful labor of love.
For the farm itself in its daily operations, we also strive to be environmentally responsible. For us, that means re purposing old materials when able, before purchasing new. Recycling, Reusing and being as environmentally friendly as possible. (more on that below).
PRODUCE SALES: Our primary objective to becoming sustainable as a non-profit, is to be able to produce enough seasonal produce for sale to the general public, to meet the monthly operating costs of the farm. Anything made over our monthly operation costs is used for additional needs outside of basic operations, such as (but not limited to) repairs, replacement tools and equipment, or expansion/upgrade needs in the garden.
Produce can be purchased directly at the garden (we harvest fresh to order), or you can subscribe to our monthly produce boxes, which offers a substantial amount of fresh produce, as available each week. During the spring months boxes typically see more greens and root vegetables (such as kale, collards, radish etc) and as summer progresses, you will find more squash, tomatoes and other heat loving produce in your box. This is not a CSA box, but simply a farm produce box order that you can start/stop at any time. Boxes can be purchased as one time orders as needed, or set up for weekly/bi-weekly orders. This is a great option if you aren't particular on what types of veggies you receive and you enjoy the fun of unpacking the produce and discovering new produce you may not have tried before! We always try to include a good assortment.
NO harsh CHEMICAL PESTICIDES!: While we are not a certified Organic farm at this time, we do our best to farm with Organic practices. Knowing that the food we grow is a product of the the environment its grown in, We want to be eating FOOD not chemicals! For us, this means being conscious of the fertilizers or soil amendments we put in the ground, we use natural oils or organic approved products as needed for bug control as well as practicing companion planting, planting additional plants around the garden that attract beneficial insects and also through the use of various beneficial insects as part of our pest repel/deterring program.
COMPOSTING (and general soil care): We compost a variety of materials to use to help improve our own soil. Manure is well seasoned and added to our compost, along with green matter and other biodegradable products. Improving our soil is a labor of love in itself, as we started with the typical heavy clay and rocky volcanic type land for the garden that is common to the area. We strive for the layering/no till method of gardening, though still do use the tiller on occasion.
REUSING MATERIALS: We believe re using products that might otherwise be tossed when something new is purchased helps the environment. If it can still be used, instead of adding to a landfill, we will try and use it! From building our sheds, to planters to anything else we might need, we try and use materials re-purposed from other sources first. Donated old lumber (old torn down fencing, old barns, odds and ends pieces left over from a building project etc), old nursery planters (we clean and sterilize always), hand-me-down hand tools etc. are always appreciated. We recycle plastic bottles and cans as a means of fundraising for the farm and we pick up or have dropped off - old, out of date/expired/just plain past their prime kitchen scraps and misc. produce, and other food products (no meat!) to feed to our farm pigs, chickens etc.
Things we can always use include:
Fencing (all types - field, no climb, panel, chicken etc..) - CAN BE OLD/USED, as long as its still use-able!
Old boards (2x4, 1x1, 2x6, plywood etc...)
Old planters from your nursery purchases
Your empty recyclable bottles/cans
Your kitchen scraps (no meat!) or over ripe garden produce, down and rotting apples etc.... (think happy pigs and chickens!)
AQUAPONICS: 2019 started us playing around a bit with Aquaponics! We hope to make this a viable solution to our WINTER growing season needs, when its just too cold outside to cooperate with our garden plans.
The idea behind it is a closed system with plants and fish creating a sustainable, low impact/low energy growing solution. The fish provide the nutrients that the plants need to grow. The 'dirty' water is pumped through the planters where the nutrients are used by the plants and the water is filtered and cleaned as it flows through. The water at the end of the planters is then returned into the fish tanks cleaned and ready for the fish! Right now as we work on learning/perfecting our system we are using simple goldfish type fish, which are fun to watch, but not super productive other than providing nutrients for the plants. Once we are confident in our system and how it operates, we will replace the goldfish with a species of fish that is also edible. At that point we will have not only food growing in the trays, but food growing in the tanks.
SOLAR ENERGY: Currently, there is a solar set up which subsidizes the electricity used both at the main house and the farm. While we are not there yet, our main goal is to be able to expand our solar to be able to completely run all of the gardens electricity needs. This not only will reduce the monthly outgoing costs for power, but we will be utilizing a renewable resource (the sun!) to meet our power needs.
Solar for the pump house, solar to run the greenhouse, and solar for the office/shop. This is one of those projects mentioned above under "PRODUCE SALES" when talking about expansion/upgrade needs for the garden.
We are ALWAYS interested in new ways to become more sustainable and welcome ideas!