Create a sustainable farm seed plan

Develop a Sustainable Farm Seed Plan

Ideas for Enhancing Sustainability on Your Farm

Increase self-reliance by growing your own inputs. Reduce the purchase of fertilizers, animal feed, and hay mulch by growing much of your own. You'll save money and improve the health of your livestock, soils, crops, and ultimately, the food you sell and eat.

Here are a few of the many ways in which Johnny's Farm Seed offerings can contribute to the sustainability of your operation:

Grazing Pasture

Pasture mixes of grasses and legumes provide an important source of food for livestock. Organic certification requires that ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats have access to green pasture during the growing season. Grazing also benefits non-ruminants, reducing the amount of other feed required as it improves health.

Livestock Feed

Hay and silage can be grown on the farm to provide feed for livestock during the winter. Forage turnips can provide feed for livestock even when covered with snow. Growing your own feed reduces the need to buy hay, an expense that can significantly reduce the profit potential of livestock.

Grains & Seeds

Grains are essential to the diets of poultry and swine. Most cattle also are fed grains. Growing and mixing your own feed rations may be more cost-effective and even necessary for certified growers if local certified-organic feeds are not available. At home, grains can be milled for baking, and 'Royal Hybrid 1121' produces delicious edible sunflower seeds and bird food.

Green Manures

Farmers without livestock face a greater perennial challenge of renewing soil fertility for crop production. Field rotation with green manures — cover crops that provide nutrients, increase organic matter, and improve soil tilth — can effectively counterbalance this challenge. Johnny's carries over 30 selections to suit a range of specific needs.

Hay for Mulching

Hay meadows can be cut and baled to provide mulch for vegetable crops, thus reducing the need for petroleum-fueled tillage.

Insectary Plantings

Insectary plantings help to increase pollination of vegetable and fruit crops while providing nectar and habitat for beneficial insects. Certain crops such as oilseed radish and mustards control nematodes while also increasing soil organic matter. Many growers include insectary plantings as part of their overall sustainable practices plan.

About the Author
Lynn Byczinski
Lynn Byczinski, Author & Founder of Growing for Market
Lynn Byczynski was growing organic vegetables and cut flowers for market when she decided to create a magazine that would help market gardeners nationwide share experiences and information. Her first issue of Growing for Market appeared in January 1992, and GFM has been published continuously ever since, becoming renowned in the market-gardening world for realistic articles that provide practical, how-to information about growing and selling produce and flowers.

Lynn and her family have been growing vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through CSAs, at farmers' markets, to chefs, grocery stores, and florists. They currently grow cut flowers and hoophouse tomatoes on about 2 acres of their 20-acre farm near Lawrence, Kansas.

She is also the author/editor of two of our favorite books about market farming:

• The Flower Farmer
• The Hoophouse Handbook