How We Grow
We pride ourselves on being a farm that practices good stewardship, using sustainable growing methods and paying living wages to our workers. When you choose flowers from Foster Road Farm, you can be confident that our flowers have not been flown across oceans or treated with harsh chemicals. When you buy from us you get the best our fields have to offer and support a small farm and local families. Thank you!
“ORGANIC” vs. SUSTAINABLE AT FOSTER ROAD FARM
Because we live on the farm, of course we want to foster a healthy environment for ourselves and our animals. Our goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem with respect for the land, our crops, and our customers. Although we follow organic practices at Foster Road Farm, we are not certified organic. Organic standards, which are primarily geared toward food production, are less well adapted for floriculture.
But we do recognize and embrace the value of organic practices and employ these methods extensively on our farm. We treat the land as a valuable asset, encouraging vitality with compost, green manures, site-made biochar, vermiculture and more. When problems with pests or disease arise, we turn first to the least environmentally impactful solution. Many issues can be prevented simply with good cultural practices, others treated early with certified organic products.
To keep insects at bay, we use a combination approach of light weight coverings, organic sprays such as neem seed oil, beneficial insets that control damaging species, and hand pulling into soapy water when we must. We found chickens to be excellent bug-foragers, but unfortunately they also nibbled everything else so they are no longer welcome in the flower fields, restricted to their shady grove and cozy coop.
Weed control is the most time-consuming chore on the farm. Our grassy meadow soil is filled with decades of seed contributions. In our annual beds where we till the soil, millions of dormant weeds seeds are ready to spring to life. Here we use landscape fabric to cover the bare soil so weed seeds already in the soil don’t get the light they need to germinate and air-borne seeds can’t take hold. Small holes are burned in the fabric at optimal spacing for starter plants, “plugs”, that fill in to crowd out most weeds. We start new beds using occultation, a technique that simply smothers the vegetation and weeds. We cover the ground with a heavy tarp so vegetation dies down to a soft mulch into which we can plant perennials and shrubs. And where we direct sow seeds, we try to use timing strategies to knock down weeds with a hoe or flame weeder before they get ahead of the crop. Now all this sounds great, but we’re still trying to get the kinks worked out and weeds are a constant nemesis–harboring pests, drinking away moisture, bullying the more tender crops. You can hear me curse when the crabgrass season starts!
Dormant Dahlia Tuber
Planting Tulip Bulbs
The payoff for the extra effort dahlias require comes late in the season. They flower in an astonishing array of colors and range from tiny prom-pom to impressive dinner-plate sizes.