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Transforming Conventional Fields to a Productive Healthy Farm  RSS feed

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I have taken and participated in several PDCs and have some experience on small scale plating of food forests and annual organic gardens. I am now considering taking over a 4+ acre field that has been heavily farmed (conventionally) for generations in Switzerland, near the city of Lausanne.  I believe it is in zone 8a-8b. I am now looking at the business startup part of the design and of course a large part of this is to obtain a yield and more specifically $$$. The idea I have is to start a market garden with green house(s) on 1 acre, importing soils and nutrients and working an annual CSA style business to bring in some startup revenue. On the other 3 acres I envision a permaculture style (low input) pioneer plant planting for soil regeneration. This area will be taking into account a more long term design with workshops and layers of productions as the goal. I am wondering if anyone has experience with such a conversion of a depleted farm field and/or such a business startup that would like to share some tips/resources.

Thanks, Simha
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My first suggestion would be to do a soil sample to see just how degraded the soil truly is. Your plan sounds good, but it may be more than what is required as conventional farming in the midwest of the USA might be vastly different than what conventional farming in Switzerland is like. "It is only a guess unless you test!" is a great mantra to remember. Why do more work than might be required especially if needing to establish cash flow is paramount right out of the gate. Typically it takes a few years for farms to start making money.

A case in point is my own farm, conventionally farmed for generations, but because it used dairy cow manure and chicken litter for fertilizer, it is actually on the upper end of the spectrum. Fortifying my soil with more organic matter would only make it worse. To take my farm to the next level I need more diversity in my fields to break up compaction without resorting to tillage. But I know this because soil reports come back as high in organic matter.

Not sure what they cost there, but in the USA they are $12 US Currency.
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