The Organic Farming Certificate Program and the Veteran Farmer Training Program recently visited 2 Gander Farm, located in Downingtown, Pa. 2 Gander Farm is operated by husband/wife team Trey and Deirdre Flemming. The 10-acre farm holds a bounty of vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and bees, and is located within a preserve owned by the Brandywine Conservancy.
Diedre and Trey have been farming for 9 years and are now in their 5th year at their Downingtown location. The Flemmings gave advice to the students on running a farm leased through a conservation or land trust. Highlighting on some of the good and bad of the logistics, sense-of-stewardship and politics that often comes with this unique set-up. They provided the students with resources for different ways to acquire land and how to continue their land stewardship as farmers.
During the tour, the students learned how the Flemming’s increase soil health through organic farming methods, composting, and mulching. When the Flemmings brought 2 Gander Farm to the preserve, the land was not organically maintained, therefore the soil had very little life to it. Now, the land is fertile and yielding nutritious produce.
The Flemmings also spoke to the students about their leaf mulching system. The couple plant seeds in the fall and cover them with leaf mulch to survive the winter. These crops then come up in the spring and are much more resilient than spring-sown plants. This unique method will be useful for members of both programs looking to grow produce of their own. The field trip was a chance for the students to learn the value of land conservation and stewardship in organic farming.
After a tour of the farm, the students, veterans and Flemming’s had lunch together. This gave the Flemming’s an opportunity to go over, in detail; crop plans, rotations and different soil testing. Furthering the bond between organic farmers and continually building a community for the students and veterans to build upon.
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