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harvesting nearby conventional farm wastes  RSS feed

Posts: 15
Location: Clinton, Maryland Zone 6b; 40" precip
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Hello all,

I am starting an endeavor to restore a house built in 1750 near washington, DC on an old tobacco plantation. There are about 200 acres currently downhill from the uphill home site that are being farmed conventionally using well irrigation for cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, greens, and more. The fields are row cropped, mounded and wrapped with plastic with water pipe running the length.

I am attacking two small abandonded fields next to the house where I have been living for past 8 months that total an acre. There is a larger field that runs the length a creek that cuts through the property as well that I could use, but it is very rocky, slopy, and rolling that totals 2.5 acres. There is another 10+ acres woodland. I envision a farm community that would involve visitors/clients coming to the farm in some capacity (helping with harvest, education, etc) in an attempt to draw attention to the preservation of the house. Im hoping the farm and people can help save the house, basically, but im totally flexible on whatever acheives that goal in long term sustainable way.

My question is how I could best design my operation to utilize the waste of the larger farm? There are multiple fields of wasted, rejected veggies after each season. They plough the waste back into the fields, make their mounds, and wrap in plastic every spring. Is this is a suitable pasture situation where i bring in a herd of animals and let the eat the waste? Should I be interested in collecting the waste for my composting efforts (they use fertilizer and pesticides)?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Posts: 3534
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Uh.... As far as I can discern.... The vegetables and crop residues that get tilled back into your neighbor's farm are not waste, they are fertilizer.

People are all the time asking me for my "waste". They want free corn stalks to feed to their cows, or for decorations. They want pumpkins to feed to their pigs. I'd be glad to let them go if they paid retail prices. But I don't send my soil's fertility out into the world without being paid for it. There is no waste on my farm. Next year's soil fertility is not a waste product, it is a valuable asset.

Posts: 4400
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I would also be a little worried about the pesticides ending up on my garden.

You should be able to grow all of your own soil building plants.

Can you post some pictures of the area you have to work with?
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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Hi Colin,
If it were me, I would focus on the house and just grow food for myself. It sounds like you have an interesting house and this could be a teaching platform in itself. Integrating the land with the home will provide much of the food you need while controlling runoff and providing a sanctuary for when the house is torn up and you can't take it anymore, but not require all your time like a market garden situation.

If you start a project thread, I will give you as much guidance on the restoration as you need.
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