RTB Farming Philosophy
Annuals and Perennials
At RTB, we farm using a holistic philosophy that is derived from Permacultural, Biodynamic, and Soil Re-mineralization perspectives. We use a non-dogmatic approach to meet the needs of our environment and are utilizing an eclectic range of practices including: a variety of organic mulches, on-farm livestock-based compost, vermicompost, post-industry organic sea resources, mineral rock dust amendments, biodynamic preparations, astronomical planting, season extension, reduced irrigation, cover crops and crop rotation; all in order to grow the most health-sustaining soils and nutrient-dense, bioactive food and medicine possible.
“We strive to work with nature, not against it. We are dancing and not wrestling with our ecologicalsurroundings, and we are constantly adapting ourselves and our practices in line with our values and a philosophy of respect for our interdependence.”
– Benoit Azagoh-Kouadio, RTB Garden Manager
Organic and Beyond
The general understanding of the term “organic” is food that is produced without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or genetic modification. In other words, food which has not been intentionally poisoned. At RTB we believe this is an essential and important aspect of producing healthy, life-giving food. However, we don’t believe that nourishing agricultural practices can simply be defined by what they are omitting.
The original meaning of the term organic agriculture–and the meaning that we subscribe to here at RTB–refers to organic matter and the practice of adding life-based plant and animal materials into the soil. These materials decompose and feed the soil microbial web, sequester carbon, nourish healthy soil structure, and increase the soil’s ability to hold onto key nutrients and retain moisture. This is not a process of omission; but rather, a process of actual nourishment.
Official USDA organic certification requires that foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing factors like soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. For small farmers, organic certification through the USDA is a significant process and can be prohibitively expensive. It can also restrict farmers from using their own on-site compost and other full-circle soil amendments. Meanwhile, large industrial organic farms may be certified as organic, but because soil practices are minimal, this food can remain minerally and nutritionally deficient.
For these reasons we–and some other small farms–choose not to be certified organic, and rather focus our resources and energy on utilizing the best practices for nourishing our soil. Healthy soil is what gives us healthy food. We strive to nourish the soil, plants, and animals that nourish us in return.
“There are so many layers to understanding animal systems. I’m in an intimate relationship with land and water and weather and everything.”
–Geoff Kinder, Farm Caretaker and Livestock Agriprenuer
Animals are central to land management at RTB, and each animal participates in many aspects of farm life. Chickens eat weeds and pests, create fertilizer, and produce eggs and meat. They also play an important part in our educational services. Farm dogs protect gardens and livestock from pests and predators; they also provide snuggles. Every animal is valued for its special presence and its many roles.
Most of the livestock at RTB is owned and managed by independent agriprenuers. Geoff Kinder manages cows and pigs through his business, Paradox Acres. Hannah Wylie and Tyler See manage goats through their business, Goatbusters.
Almost all of the animals at RTB complete full life-cycles within a very small range of the farm. Most are born and bred right here at RTB, and they all have access to pasture and sunshine.
We are lucky to live within fifteen miles of a trusted, USDA- certified slaughterhouse. You can purchase Goatbusters goat meat and Paradox Acres beef and pork at our monthly Open Farm days or through our Meat CSA. All meat is steroid, hormone, and antibiotic free.
Cows and Pigs
During the growing season, Geoff rotates his cows on pastures throughout the farm and abutting conservation land. As the cows graze, they maintain and fertilize pasture grasses, which promotes soil health. During the winter, Geoff feeds the cows hay. He harvests hay each year from RTB and land within a mile of the farm. Geoff works with conservation organizations to coordinate haying in a way that protects nesting birds and maintains bird habitat.
Geoff’s pigs live outdoors year-round, where they have access to soil, rain, sunshine, shelter, and bedding. Most pigs live in close family units with their litter mates. Geoff feeds them a mixture of pasture, non-GMO grain, hay, brew grains from Moby Dick Brewery, grass clippings, and food processing discards from the farm. Pigs transform scraps into compost and help till garden beds.
During the growing season, Hannah and Tyler rotate their goats on pastures throughout the farm and local community. The goats are born and raised at RTB and divided into small working groups that primarily focus on clearing brush and invasives. Some groups are hired by local individuals and institutions to perform their goatscaping duties as Goatbusters. As browsers, goats are adept at finding and feeding on a variety of plant species, ensuring a diverse diet and providing the added benefit of depositing natural fertilizer wherever they go. Every year a few goats are taken to Meatworks to be processed into sausage and other cuts of meat. Goat meat is one of the leanest and healthiest forms of meat available and is widely consumed around the world.
In the winter, the goats spend more of their time in the barn, where they stay warm and munch on hay. Tyler and Hannah supplement their diet with minerals, organic feed, sprouted grains, and certain food processing scraps from the farm. Kidding season begins in late January, when the addition of baby goats brings a burst of brightness to the winter months.
We strive to be as transparent as possible with our complex way of farming and the best way to understand ‘our ways’ is to come for a farm tour! If you have questions about our farming practices or want to join us for a tour, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org