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Conservation Farming  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Helen Atthowe, Missoula County Extension Agent (Missoula, Montana) talks about the farming techiques she used near Stevensville, Montana.  She calls it "Conservation Farming".

Helen is well known in the Missoula area, not just as the Missoula county extension agent, but also as one of the most popular vendors at the Missoula farmers Market / Missoula Saturday market.

"The goal of our conservation farming is to increase farm profitability by decreasing labor and land requirements while striving to mimic the ecological principles that make native plant systems sustainable.  The ecological principles we hope to mimic include reduced tilalge, increase species and genetic diversity, closed nutrient cycles, and creation of more diverse habitat.  We look at our farm from a landscape or watershed level and hope to reconnect wild areas, agriculture and urban areas. Conservation agriculture is both biologically and socially a local agriculture."

"We're trying to develop an agriculture system, in this case a vegetable production system, that sponsors its own fertility."

Biological pest management:  "..  mimic from a natural system is to sponsor our own pest control."  "We're creating habitat for beneficial insects, parasites and predetors ..."

"We are trying to provide habitat for birds, and pollinator insects and for other mammals that may be in the system.  We're trying to create a link between natural systems and agricultural systems."

Includes footage of an all native hedgerow.

Helen talks about issues with voles and how the voles attracted snakes, coyotes and foxes.



 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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That is so refreshing to see considering how many generations of farmers have listened to their County Agent telling them how many hundreds of pounds of chemicals per acre they need to apply to achieve a crop.

County Agents come out of our state AG colleges armed with all of the chemical knowledge needed to continue destroying our nation's farmland.  It is nice to see an agent that is not a spokesperson for 'agribusiness'.
 
T. Joy
Posts: 438
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Look at the size of that pepper in her hand. Whatever she's doing is obviously working!
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21974
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I'm going to get Helen to make an appearance here on permies later today. 

What are some questions you have for her?

 
T. Joy
Posts: 438
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We have problems with coyotes here out in the county pretty bad actually. As fun as that is to see them romping the garden and part of the eco-system, they are considered quite a nuisance here. How is she finding harmony with creatures that are considered pests or undesirable? People lose chickens, cats and small dogs out there regularly.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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love love love it..it reminded me of the market farm a friend of ours owns in Pinconning Michigan..very similar look to it..only instead of mountains it is on Lake Huron..
thanks for sharing
 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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Really nice!

what a well formulated story, also nice editting.

Would you mind it if i translate it and put dutch subtitles under it to add it to youtube again for the dutch permies and future permies?
(dont know exactly how to do this but im sure i'll figure it out. obviously it will redirect here and to your youtube channel.)

we wont increase your traffic much, there live 16.000.000 people in the netherlands but the old permie googlegroup only had 200 members, the new forum we started two months ago just 50...

Im mostly setting up the forums to get a good online source, or bundling sources in dutch, for non english speakers.

One thing that is really lacking here is proffesionals applying permaculture (or whatever you wanto call it), out here it's still a hobby type of thing; although many people are feeding themselves, apart from a few educational sites not many large scale projects. just a few people are busy with permaculture proffesionally, would be good to have more (examples of) farms that are actually depending on produce.

that's why i liked this film especially: will be played at a few potluck for sure!
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21974
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Helen talking about using penny cress as a living mulch where you simply select to not pull it as a weed.



 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Thanks Paul for giving Helen some visibility... Her work is a breath of fresh air in terms of its specificity and its scale of application.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Does anyone know why Helen gave up the farming?
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21974
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Alison Freeth-Thomas wrote:
Does anyone know why Helen gave up the farming?


Helen just finished a summer running a 2000 acre organic operation in Colorado.  I wouldn't call that giving up farming.

 
helen atthowe
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I gave up farming because I had farmed commercially for 17 years on this piece of land in MT mostly by myself. I was ready to work with others and move back closer to the natual farming I learned when I was in my 20s.  I  sold my farm to a couple who are farming it organically using some of the  reduced tillage techniques I developed.  I am now consulting and helping others with their farms and stewardship projects as well as designing and creating a small forest garden that gives me great joy.  There's a time and place for everything!

Helen
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21974
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21974
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
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