Produce & Flowers
Tortoise & Hare FarmOwner: Krista Kelly
3940 N Weber Rd
Muskegon, MI 49445
daytime phone: (847) 302-9673
evening phone: (847) 302-9673
Web site: http://tortoise-hare-farm.square.site/
Application Date: 2022-03-09
- Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
- We firmly believe in managing a farm in the most environmentally friendly way possible. We have always used organic growing methods but for multiple reasons, were not completely impressed with the USDA's organic certification. Since we primarily sell at farmers markets, through CSA and at our farm stand, we felt that having a certification was not completely necessary our first few years. Had we sold wholesale where an organic logo would have been required, we may have felt differently but we did not have that obligation. We have always been transparent with our customers about our growing practices. Our customers know that we grow responsibly but we have come to a point where we'd like to have a certification to not only further our commitment to growing this way but also as a way to perhaps attract new customers that care about growing practices. Especially at farmers markets, there are people who look for certification signs. Without having a certification, we believe there probably have been customers who have walked by our booth without knowing our growing methods and standards. We believe that becoming Certified Naturally Grown will attract these individuals and at the very least spark conversation with them about sustainable and responsible growing methods. One more reason is that we are impressed with your program, know a number of farms and friends that are Certified Naturally Grown and would love to become a part of this community!
- Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
- Have you ever been certified in the past? *
- Have you ever been denied certification? *
- How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
- Through multiple other farms and through publications and social media.
- How did you learn to farm, and for how long have you been farming for market? What has prepared you to farm successfully according to CNG standards? *
- 2022 will be our fifth season as a farm. Prior to that, there was about a two year process we both embarked on to learn as much as we could about farming before starting our business. We completed a farm business class in Northern Illinois called "Stateline Farm Beginnings" run by Angelic Organics. This class helped us understand the business side of farming. We read a copious amount of farming books, the most influential being Eliot Coleman's "New Organic Grower" and JM Fortier's "The Market Gardener". We also attended a couple farm conferences such as MOSES and volunteered at a couple farms when we could. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to farm in an environmentally friendly way. This meant never using any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, disturbing the soil as little as possible, attracting beneficial insects and animals, planting a diversity of plant life, stewarding the soil in a responsible way, and working with nature instead of against it. All of our experiences has only reinforced our belief that farming this way is without a doubt the best way to manage a farm.
General Farm Information
- Farm Acreage you want listed as Certified Naturally GrownTM:
- Total Farm Acreage you actually GROW on: *
- 1.5 acres
- Number of above acreage that you own: *
- 1.5 acres
- Number of above acreage that you lease: *
- Do you have other acreage in "Conventional" Agricultural Systems? *
- General Listed Acreage Breakdown
- Veg Crops:
- Fruit Crops:
- Other Acreage:
- Please check all items you grow and will market as Certified Naturally GrownTM *
- Please Specify Any Other Items:
- Please check all markets you grow for (this will be displayed on your farm profile to help potential buyers find you). *
- Please Specify Other Markets:
Farmland Management and Practices
- Primary Tillage System: *
- We are a completely no-till farm. The only time we use a tiller is for forming new, permanent beds. Once these beds are formed, we use a variety of methods to keep the soil covered at all times. This is primarily achieved through multiple plantings in the same bed in a season. In beds where crops will be in place for a long time, we either use a cardboard/straw mulching system or landscape fabric (not plastic) to cover the beds. In the late fall, we cover all beds with silage tarps where they remain until being planted the following spring or summer. In areas we do not use silage tarps, we use cover crops or straw.
- Do you use Cover Crops? *
- If yes, please list: *
- We have used winter rye in the past but are going to use winterkill crops like peas and oats in some areas.
- Do you use Compost? *
- If yes, please note general sources (on farm, purchased complete, local grass clippings, local dairy, etc.): *
- We purchase all of our compost from Morgan Composting in Michigan. This is a finished product called Dairy Doo.
- Please list application rates. Give a specific amount or range (for example: one to two tons per acre, ten wheelbarrow loads per 1,000 square feet, or 1-2 inches deep). Do not answer "varies". *
- Each bed gets 2-4" per year. We go through 80-100 yards per season.
- Do you use Manure? *
- Please list any other brought in fertility sources that you use (specific rock powders, lime, soybean / alfalfa meal, specific purchased pre-mixes, etc)and how often it's used. If you indicate a name brand product, please also specify the ingredient/s. *
- We occasionally use organic sulfate of potash (0-0-50). We also use a small amount of a 10-0-4 granular fertilizer also made by Morgan composting. This is an organic blend that uses the same dairy doo compost as the main ingredient. The only other fertility source we use is a liquid product from Neptune's Harvest. It is a 2-3-1 fish/seaweed blend that is OMRI certified.
- Have any chemical fertilizers been applied to the fields you are seeking Certification for in the last three years (36 months)? *
- Have any non-acceptable pesticides and/or herbicides been applied to these fields in the last 3 years? *
- Do you use Professional Soil Testing services? *
- Describe your primary weed problems AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual weed challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
- Of what will be a recurring theme in the next few answers, it all starts with prevention. Our first line of defense against weeds is not tilling the soil. By not tilling, we are drastically reducing the amount of weed seeds that are exposed to the soil's surface. From there, we try to keep the soil covered at all times. This means proper plant spacing to ensure the canopy completely covers the bed, using transplants as much as possible instead of direct seeding to minimize the amount of time where soil is exposed and also giving the crops a head start to out-compete weeds, and applying a thick layer of compost before planting to act as a mulch, using a cardboard/straw mulch system or landscape fabric in beds that will have crops in them for an extended period of time. When the season draws to a close, we now have enough silage tarps to cover all beds for the late fall and through the winter. These tarps cover the beds until they are planted the following season. Last year was our first year using silage tarps (we had about half of our beds covered all winter) and the reduction in weeds was incredible. After that, we do our best to eliminate weeds on a routine basis. We wheel hoe our walkways weekly throughout the season, as these areas are not mulched and weeds do grow in them. We weed the beds with a hoe on a weekly basis as well this year. We know that weeding beds during the thread stage of weed development is the best time to weed. With a weekly routine of this, we should be able to stay ahead of weeds before they even become an issue. We have learned the hard way multiple times to not let weeds grow too large where they can no longer be removed with a hoe. We have also learned to at the very least, never let weeds reach the seed development stage. If we see weeds that are beginning to flower, those are removed immediately. We have never and will never use a product for weed control.
- Describe your primary insect challenges AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual pest challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
- The worst insect pest we experience is cabbage moth on brassica plants, specifically kale, collard greens. Again, prevention is key to hold off insect pests as long as possible but we find that some sort of insect damage is inevitable. We provide a healthy soil and transplant large, healthy plants, use row cover on almost most crops during the spring, provide supplemental fertility throughout the season, remove unhealthy plants from the field, and promote beneficial insects and birds that eat insect pests. We are planning to place more bird houses throughout our fields, especially bluebird houses, as they are voracious insect eaters. Since cabbage moth is such a problem, we apply Dipel DF (OMRI listed) every 3 weeks on our kale, collards and cabbage plants throughout the growing season. This is the only product we spray on a regular basis. The only other product we use for insects is Pyganic. We use this primarily for squash, cucumber and potato beetles, when we notice their levels have increased to a number where they need to be knocked back. Last year, we were lucky enough to not have a problem with squash and cucumber beetles, as we did an excellent job of scouting early in the season and removing all eggs and adults when we saw them. This worked so well that this method will be used every season from now on. The only other bad insect problem we have had is Colorado potato beetle. We handpicked them off our potato and eggplant plants multiple times but they finally reached a population level where we had to apply Pyganic once to them. Occasionally flea beetles and whiteflies have caused damage on greens. When the damage has become unacceptable, we have used neem oil and/or Pyganic to treat those crops. Tomato hornworms and cutworms have been minor problems but we find that routine scouting and hand-picking of these insects works well.
- Describe your primary disease challenges AND methods of control. Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate either actual disease challenges and/or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage (or would manage) them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used. *
- The main disease problems we face are mostly on summer vegetables like tomatoes and squash plants. We have had powdery mildew on zucchini and squash plants and early blight on field tomatoes. Other than that, we don't experience too many diseases. Again, the primary methods we use are in disease prevention which means providing a healthy, biologically active soil and planting a healthy transplant. From there, we use proper plant spacing, pruning to provide adequate airflow, avoid overnight irrigation and keep a diligent eye out for any signs of disease. The only instance that we treat for disease is when we feel it is starting to gain a foothold and there is still a lot of time expected for the plant to produce sellable crops. For instance, if we see powdery mildew forming on zucchini three weeks after planting, we will apply Cease and Milstop. However, if we see powdery mildew forming in mid-September, we will not apply anything, as these plants have slowed production down. In that instance, we will continue to harvest until the disease has taken over and then remove the plants from the field. We have not used any products for early blight on tomatoes as it seems once the plants get it, they are going to decline rapidly. Those plants are removed from the field once they have slowed production. Cease and Milstop have been the only fungicides we have applied on our farm. Those products worked well, so we only had to do one application per season on the affected crop.
- Please list the water source you use for crop irrigation. If source is public river, pond or lake, please note the name: *
- We use a shallow well which pumps groundwater. It was tested in 2020 and had no contaminants.
- Are there any known contaminants in the irrigation water? *
- Are you a maple producer who seeks to certify your sugarbush? *
Seeds, Transplants and Buffers
- How do you select your seeds? CNG standards call for growers to make a good faith effort to locate organically grown seeds by contacting at least 3 major suppliers. *
- We purchase 99% of our vegetable seeds from Johnny's and High Mowing. The other 1% is from Fedco. We always choose organic options when available. For our flower seeds, about 75% of them are from Johnnys, with the remaining from Floret Flower, Select Seeds, Uprising Seeds, Swallowtail seeds, and Wild Garden seeds.
- Do you purchase or grow using any Genetically Modified seeds? *
- Do you use any chemically treated seeds in your operation? *
- Do you grow your own transplants? *
- Do you purchase potting soil, or do you mix your own on the farm? *
- What ingredients does your potting mix contain? If you purchase a mix, please also indicate which product. *
- We purchase Seed Starter 101 from Morgan Composting. Peat, perlite, worm castings, dairy doo, carbonatite, mychorrizal fugni.
- Are all of your transplants grown according to CNG standards, without synthetic fertilizers or wetting agents? *
- If any transplants are not grown according to CNG standards, please list them here. (If they all are, put "N/A".) This produce may not be marketed as Certified Naturally Grown. *
- Do you purchase any transplants from outside sources? *
- Chemical/Spray Drift and Buffers:
- Is there any likelihood of Chemical/Spray drift contamination of your fields? *
- Do you have an adequate buffer to protect yourself from potential contamination? *
- Please describe your buffer. Be as specific as possible. On all sides, how far is it from your crops to the next closest use (road, conventional crop, residential yard)? Be sure to specify what is grown on neighboring land that is in agricultural use. For example: To the north and east, a wooded area of at least 100 yards separates us from the neighbor's corn fields, to the south is a fallow field at least 100 yards deep separating us from the road, and to the west about 60 feet separates our crops from a field where conventional corn and soybeans are grown. *
- There is no other land in agricultural use for well over a mile in all directions. To the east of all of our fields are hundreds of yards of dense forest. There is a road to the west of our fields about 50-75 feet away. Most of the area between the road and our fields has a thick stand of pine trees. The other area we have between the road and our fields has a buffer of thick grass that is never mowed and we are planting a windrow of trees and shrubs in that area. To the north is our home and more woods. To the south is woods in one location, and in the other location a road exists but there is at least a 50 foot buffer of grass and native plants.
- Please indicate your agreement with the following statements by checking the boxes.
- I will not label, or in any way lead consumers to believe that produce not raised in accord with CNG standards is Certified Naturally GrownTM. *
- I understand that I have to complete at least one (and hopefully more) Certification Inspection(s) of another farm in my area each year, and that the inspection will NOT be of the same farmer that inspected me. *
- I have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown certification standards, I understand them, and I will abide by them. I understand that if I have any questions I may contact CNG for clarification. *
- You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your farm:
- We are excited at the possibility of becoming Certified Naturally Grown! If you choose to certify us, know that you will be accepting a farm that believes environmentally stewardship and clean, healthy food are the two most important aspects of running a vegetable and flower growing operation.