In February 2016, we started the process of converting 20 acres of land from conventional to organic. As many of you know, we recently purchased land and planted 20 acres of new peach trees. The new 20-acre plot has been farmed conventionally for thirty years; so we now embark on the slow and steady process of transition. In organic certification, land must be farmed organically for three continuous years before it can be officially be certified organic. The three years starts from the late date of the application of prohibited materials, such as a chemical pesticide.
Stone fruit take approximately 5 years to bear their first fruit. This gives us plenty of time to transition the new land. During these next years we will actively work to restore the biodiversity and soil health of the new orchard. The orchard will also be freed from degrading tractor processes and it will no longer be treated with synthetic chemicals. During this time we will monitor the changes in soil health, as well as the native cover crops that will re-inhabit this now barren landscape.
We planted two new parcels of land this year. One parcel we planted on acreage that has been farmed organically by Frog Hollow for 15 years.
The other planting, as discussed, exists on our newly acquired, previously conventional land. After planting, both parcels have been left untouched for about a month.
The transitioning land is completely bare except for the baby trees: no weeds, no insect or bird life. The result of 30 years of chemical applicants is obvious- the herbicides have killed any understory growth, and the pesticides have eliminated animal life. In comparison, the long-time organic land is lush with a native cover crop- the wild mustard is flowering, along with clover, oat grass and poppies. A slew of insects are present; just today we saw lady