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The farm is largely self-sustaining. It produces what it needs to maintain itself today, as well as what it needs to endure into the future. The sunshine, water, soils and biological diversity inherent to these 25 acres in northwestern Connecticut provide a permanent foundation supporting the livelihood of a farm family. Soil management, horticultural crops, propagation, a small-scale philosophy, sheep, chickens and more are integral parts of an organic whole.

The deep, stone-free and level fine sandy loam is continually improved with several cover crops, farm-made composts, hay mulches, aged sheep manure and the wood ashes from burning four cords of wood annually. Off-farm soil amendments are not applied. Several biological insect controls were established many years ago, and their effectiveness persists. No herbicides, nor any other pesticides, have been applied for over three decades, and the farm was Certified Organic for twelve years.

Two to three acres have been in tillage since 1970. About 15 acres consist of wet hay land, pasture, swamp vegetation, hedge-row and hillside trees. There is an exceptional diversity of plants and animals. Several uncommon, even rare, plant species are well represented here; and, among animal species, mink, muskrats, bobcats, bear, turkeys, and pileated woodpeckers are more or less common in addition to the ubiquitous beavers, coyotes and deer. The Naromi Land Trust Wimisink Preserve surrounds the farm on three sides.

Crop production centers on several hundred varieties of Daylilies (Hemerocallis). These perennials are grown on 2-3 year cycles, and the plants are sold nationwide. All propagation stocks for these are perpetuated on the farm. In addition, through a long-term hybridization effort, one or two new varieties are created each year for "introduction" to the public.

Small vegetable crops are aimed at the year-round needs of the family, as well as a modest farm stand in the summer and fall. A key element furthering the farm's horticultural sustainability is its heavy reliance on the on-farm maintenance of propagation stocks. About three-quarters of these horticultural varieties are grown from seeds, bulbs and tubers conserved on the farm from year to year.

Over 40 fruit trees, and 10 kinds of raspberries and blueberries provide permanent sustenance. This small-scale production of fresh produce and kitchen gardening involves around one hundred and fifty kinds of plants. The farm has long participated in the internationally critical Seed Savers Exchange into which it has contributed three unique vegetable varieties.

Reliance is placed on traditional horticultural methods. The use of polyethylene mulches and polypropylene and row covers, were abadoned several years ago, and have been fully replaced by hay from our own fields. Greenhouse growing, and irrigation, are all very minimal, and thus avoid their inherent manufacturing processes, as well as their own resource and energy components now becoming increasingly unsustainable.

Fence posts for one of the sheep pasture fences are live Red Cedar trees planted deliberately over a period of two decades. A planting of 125 Green Ash trees in the 1980s will provide firewood in the future, and the natural regeneration of the cut stumps will perpetuate this fuel wood plot. Current household heating needs are met largely by selective cutting of Maples, White Ash and Swamp White Oak from several acres of farm woodland.

Garden stakes and poles are gathered as needed from the woodlands where an on-going supply is available.

An electric fence surrounds the main Daylily and Vegetable area to exclude deer. The fence is solar powered, or battery powered.

The sheep have provided wool over the years for some of our best clothing and blankets. The fleeces have been processed, spun, dyed, and woven or knitted here at the farm. Additionally, our sheep (and chicken) manure has an important role in sustaining the good fertility of the soil.

Efforts to sustain the inherent vitality and productivity of the farm's small, closely integrated economy expand continually.

As a perennial plant,
a Daylily clump has a normal life of many decades, and probably of several centuries,
or more !

Our nursery propagation practice is to divide very young clumps, replant the small divisions, and grow them into plants of saleable size.

Each Daylily plant is in a constant state of multiplication.
It sustains itself
in perpetuity.

About Us | Firewood | Organic growing | Lee Bristol | Other farm activities | Farming lightly | Sustainability


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