On May 31, 2019 twenty-five people gathered at Full Heart Farm in Ledyard Connecticut to learn about regenerative agriculture. Participants, a majority of whom were young women farmers, received an introduction to a number of topics including: holistic financial planning, improving decision making, improving land health (through monitoring of ecosystem processes functioning) and soil health.
Full Heart Farm owner, Allyson Angelini, gave a brief history of the farm to start out the day. Full Heart Farm was started in the spring of 2012 using the principles of holistic financial planning and holistic land management. The overgrown, previously un-farmed parcel was converted into productive crop land by rotating pigs (to clear overgrown areas and rocks) and chickens (to build fertility). Each season the farm has evolved to fit the needs of the farm family, as well as the changing market for local foods. The farm currently raises specialty vegetables and cut flowers on about an acre of crop land for a 100 person CSA and a handful of wholesale accounts.
Participants spent the morning inside the barn learning why it is important to have a financial plan, filling out a priority expenses worksheet, practicing holistic decision testing and hearing from Jiff Martin and Dina Brewster speaking on UCONN Extension and CT NOFA Programs respectively. A delicious lunch was provided by The Rolling Tomato Pizza truck featuring Full Heart Farm produce as toppings. During lunch, Sarah Kubik (USDA, FSA), informed participants about the programs they have available to help farmers be financially successful. The NRCS CT Rainfall Simulator was also a big hit demonstrating water infiltration, advantages of cover crops and improved soil health.
After lunch the group headed outside to tour the property. In the field participants joined discussions on soil & land health, crop rotations, and general agronomic practices on a small vegetable operation. Many participants were interested in balancing farming & family while maintaining farm profitability. These discussions, led by Allyson Angelini & HMI Certified Educator Phil Metzger benefited from the input of other experienced HM practitioners in attendance including Sherry Simpson and Art Talmadge. Most participants were interested in specific farming practices, such as mulching or weed control and a lot of practical information was shared by Allyson Angelini. Later in the afternoon Phil did a brief biological monitoring demonstration and Kip Kolesinskas, a soil scientist, discussed maintaining healthy land and soil.
The day ended back in the classroom where Monique Bosch, of Wiggle Room, showed the group soil samples from Full Heart Farm under a microscope and gauged soil health by looking at the visible, microbial life in the soil.
Thank you to all the participants who came out to learn and contribute to discussion, to the speakers who shared their knowledge, to Phil for facilitating the day, and a big thank you to Allyson for sharing her farm with us!
|Rate your level of knowledge or ability after the event in:|
|the value of diversity in soil health||80%|
|how to determine land health||100%|
|understanding of Holistic Financial Planning||90%|
|cropping strategies that yield results||80%|
|managing your land for long term financial profitability||100%|
Here are the best things participants learned/experienced:
“Discovery of soil health and how to improve it and what to grow to promote health and biodiversity”
“Visiting Allyson’s farm, showing different methods of growing, various crops, history, variety of speakers, excellent rainwater simulator”
“The four (ecosystem) cycles. How to assess and contribute to them.”
“Observing a new farm & learning about their practices. Long term planning & new tools for decision making.”
“General holistic management and holistic financial planning-applicable outside the content of farming”
“Holistic financial planning, Soil health testing, Rainfall simulator, Resources available.”
“Soil simulator, Soil sampling, constantly monitoring & reassessing goals.”
“How everything is connected both in life & within business” Everything functions in wholes.
Special thank you to Farm Aid for funding this event.
Thank you to our host and collaborators:
UCONN College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources