|Morning milking at Moutoux|
One of the great things about being a Farm Intern at Arcadia is the opportunity to meet other farmers in the DC metro region. Each farm, while all are dedicated to sustainable agriculture practices, is run a bit differently with each farmer bringing his or her wealth of experience and knowledge to fledgling and experienced growers alike. Our first field trip of the season was this week to Moutoux Orchard in Purcellville, Virginia. About 60 miles northwest of Arcadia, Moutoux is a third generation family farm best known for its peach orchards. Rob Moutoux now runs the 60-share "Full Diet CSA" where a family buys an annual membership and comes to the farm for a weekly pickup of fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheeses and various meats, all raised, harvested and produced in a sustainable fashion on the farm.
I have long been a fan of the CSA model to promote the growth and distribution of local food though this is the first I have encountered a full diet CSA, and find it to be a really great way to bring the surrounding community together year round. You may still need to go to the grocery store once in a while to get those exotic items like avocados or grapefruits (and olive oil!), but when you become a share member, you learn what's in season and how food is supposed to taste and, more than likely, you will never want to go back to shopping and eating conventionally ever again!
Farmer Rob practices rotational grazing for both his cows and chicken similar to Joel Salatin's system on Pollyface Farms. Pigs and lambs are coming to the farm later this spring and he will incorporate them into the rotation as well. The idea is to allow pasture grasses to grow fully to provide the best nutrition possible through grazing and rest periods for the grass. The animals then provide the soil with fertilization and aerate with their hooves and scratching. Throughout our visit to the farm, Rob emphasized how it's the soil that is at the core of successful farming and once you have spent the time to build up your soil, other farm challenges like pests and disease are at a minimum.
We also had the opportunity to plant thousands of 'Red Zeppelin' onions (which Rob insists are the best storage onion) in the rain and had a great evening at the farm house waking up to freshly whipped up pancakes made with Moutoux flour! Thank you farmer Rob for your hospitality! We learned a lot!