In the world of agriculture, the word “sustainable” refers to any farming method that produces food, fiber or other agricultural products while protecting the environment, humans and animals. It may or may not be organic. Though some organic methods are used at Woodland Farm, the farm is not certified organic. To learn more about what is real sustainable farming, and how to avoid mistakes as a beginner, you must know the key ideas below.

1.Think in terms of developing a closed-loop system in which your land and what it produces are recycled and put to use without harming man, animals or the environment.

2.Don’t neglect the economic side of sustainability. Ideally, your land and what it produces should provide enough income to supply needs the land cannot provide.

3.Conserve water by storing rainwater and runoff from winter storms and using it for irrigation.

4.Use water-saving irrigation techniques, such as a drip system, and mulch to conserve soil moisture.

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5.Use animals to provide power for equipment, as a food source and to improve the soil by eating invasive plants and providing manure.

6.Use excess produce to feed livestock and provide income by selling it.

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7.Preserve produce and meat to use during winter months and in case of emergencies.

8.Avoid the use of synthetic herbicides or pesticides. Instead, rely on beneficial insects, weeding with animals, mechanical means and knowledge.

9.Repurpose downed or dead trees as animal cover, or as lumber to use in building projects and for heat.

10.Use solar, wind, water, wood and biofuel as energy sources.

This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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