Hello to all...
As someone that has been to Cedar Meadow farm (Steve Groff's farm) a
number of times and observed the crops, cover crops, soils, family
dynamics...etc.. first hand, I concur with Greg Gunthorpe's recent comment
that the farming that goes on at Cedar Meadow farm is very different from
"conventional" vegetable/grain/forage production...
Is the farming that goes on at Cedar Meadow Farm sustainable ?
Well... I don't think anyone can definitively evaluate the sustainability
of the practices currently used at Cedar Meadow farm... however central to
innovative farming (like that occuring at Cedar Meadow farm) is that the
management practices are not static...
My impression is that a broad ranging concept of sustainability
(ecological, economic, social) serves as a filter in the selection of the
management practices used at Cedar Meadow farm.
The following is a short of list of things I think contribute to the
sucesses/sustainability at Cedar meadow farm. (no particular order of
a) Two generations of the Groff family work together. I will never forget
the beautiful scene I saw driving away one day after sampling some soil at
Cedar Meadow farm. The sun was setting as I looked out at the horizon...
Steve's mom was driving the tractor, Steve was pulling the bales off the
back end of the baler and handing them to his father who was stacking
them... I think one of Steve's little girls was riding up front with her
grandmother while the other was sitting up high on the stacked bales...
b) Cedar Meadow farm consists of a great diversity of agricultural
enterprises and marketing strategies (forages, cash grains, livestock,
fresh market vegetables, canning tomatoes, sale to wholesalers, contracts
with local super markets)
c) Steve is an eager collaborator with agricultural scientists and conducts
on-farm trials every year. Within a few seconds after introducing myself to
Steve at a vegetable growers meeting, he had invited me to come visit his
farm and collect some soil samples. The soil analyses that I performed on
Cedar Meadow farm soils between 1997-1999 clearly showed that fields that
had the longest no-till and cover crop history had superior total organic
matter levels, aggregate stability, microbial biomass...
d) The Groffs are very personally committed to sharing their experiences
and discussing them with others. The Cedar Meadow farm field day is a huge
event that obviously requires a tremendous amount of effort on the part of
the Groff family. The Cedar Meadow farm web site speaks for itself
http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com . Unlike many of the famous no-till
advocates that speak on the agro lecture circuit (e.g. Jim Kinsella), I
don't think that Steve has ever been an employee of a agricultural chemical
company. Steve loves to photodocument his farm using his slides and video.
I will never forget Steve's enthusiasm as he videoed taped me pointing out
roots following earthworm channels more than 3 feet deep in a trench dug
for irrigation pipe.
e) The Groffs are active members of their local agricultural and religious
community. Serving on the board of PASA (Pennsylvania Sustainable Ag
Association) must be a huge time commitment for Steve that doesn't directly
benefit Cedar Meadow farm.
So if you boil it all down...
I think that there are many important pieces of sustainability going on at
Cedar Meadow farm:
- maintenance/enhancement of the farm's natural resource base
- farm enterprise diversity and flexibility
- on-farm research
- multi generational family participation
- support of local community
Elsah, Illinois 62028
(618) 374 - 5289
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