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Growing Practices

Sustainable Farming Practices

Our philosophy for farming is to produce food the way nature intended it. What starts in our fields ends up on your family’s table and ours. We care deeply about our land because we hope to have our family working these fields for generations to come. Living off the land is our families’ way of life. We take pride and responsibility in how we grow and raise livestock as well. We have completed two environmental farm plans, and are always looking to reduce the impact our farming practices have on our land and environment around us.

Crop Rotation and Green Manure Crops

Crop rotation is one of the most important sustainable practices we utilize. Crops that are grown in a field one year are moved to another area the following year on a rotating cycle to ensure each area never has the same crops grown there within a minimum of five years. For example, we wait over 10 years to plant strawberries in the same area again.

We plant “cover crops” in our crop rotation, such as red clover, and tillage radish, to help prevent soil erosion, add organic matter to the soil, and some even add nitrogen to the soil.

Soil Health

Healthy soil is essential to healthy plant production. We analyze the soil in our fields on a regular basis.  In the fall, we take random soil samples from all of our fields and send them to a lab for soil analysis. The results of our soil samples give us important knowledge that helps prevent us from over-fertilizing and wasting nutrients.

Pest management

At Willowtree farm we have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in place for all of our fruit and vegetable crops. Pest management is all about observation and understanding the system you are observing. There are many pests to watch for but not all show up every year or on every farm.  We want to minimize our environmental impact through food production without sacrificing product quality; with IPM we know what’s going on in our fields.

Healthy Plants

Plant health is extremely important, which is why we grow our own seeding, from seed in our greenhouse. All of our fruit and vegetables are started from non-GMO seeds. We take great care to ensure our seedlings are strong and healthy before transplanting them into our fields. If plants are strong and healthy they will be less susceptible to disease and insect problems.  Great care is taken in all of our planting methods.  Whether it’s seeding our spinach with a small push seeder, hand planting our day-neutral strawberries, or making sure our cauliflower and broccoli plants are hardened off in the spring before we plant them in the field.  Starting healthy plants requires more work, but results in faster growth, stronger in the field and with less pest problems.

Our mission is to provide you healthy food you can feel good about bringing home to your family.