Found in 2020, Fern Co. is a USDA certified Organic farm just 5 minutes outside of downtown Stevensville. The farm's mission is two-part:
Continuously improve our soil’s health and fertility.
Provide the most nutrient-rich food to our customers.
In order to carry out these missions, we turned to the scientific literature, as well as dozens of farmers around the world, for inspiration. What we learned is that soil should not looked at simply as a medium upon which to grow our food.
It must be viewed as a microbial ecosystem that can easily be disrupted by human input. Think of a farmer as a conductor and all the soil organisms as the musicians. With careful attention and experience, the farmer can conduct its musicians to create a symphonious - derived from the Greek word "sumphōnos", or ‘harmonious’ - ecosystem upon which our food is grown.
When farmers till their soil, a myriad of consequences occur. For one, microbial diversity significantly decreases (think replacing the diverse orchestra with 100 flutes player - yuck!). Soil organic carbon is metabolized and released as carbon dioxide into the air (greenhouse gases). Tillage destroys complex fungal networks, the very networks that aid plants in the transport of nutrients and their protection from disease and pests.
Robust soil biology and fertility improves nutrient density in our vegetables, thereby increasing the amount of nutrients consumed by our customers. Essentially, good soil health improves human health. This is our mission.
The vast majority of food in our food system starts its life on a farm throughout this country and beyond. Whether it's your local vegetable producer 5 minutes down the road or a citrus grower 1000 miles away in California, every meal you eat is made possible by the farmer they raised it, the distribution system that shipped it and the person(s) that cooked it. Unfortunately, in our civilization's attempt to offer a year-round supply of every food item imaginable, we have disrupted our intimate connection to our food source: the farm.
This brings us to one of our main missions at the Sour Doe, that is:
To remediate the consumers relationship to their food and subsequently the local farms that produce it.
...Stop by the café to see it all coming together!