Alfalfa is cultivated around the world, with the U.S. a primary producer. Our alfalfa leaf herb comes from a small organic farm in Oregon State.
Alfalfa serves many purposes at our Well Earth Sourcing Program partner’s farm. It provides a nourishing feed for the Belgian horses that work the farm. It is used in a crop rotation plan to control weeds and maintain soil fertility. And it's the source for Frontier's high quality alfalfa leaf.
David and Deborah Mader have a traditional family farm — a very traditional farm in that their ten Belgian horses provide most of the muscle it takes to work the fields.
The Maders grow organic vegetables, grains, beans and eggs for a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group and for direct market. They also breed and train Belgian horses for farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest, producing hay and pasture for the horses on their farm. And they grow certified organic alfalfa leaf for Frontier.
When we visited them, we were especially impressed with their internship program. "Teaching is our passion," the couple says. "We have made our work of training people to operate a farm and it's equipment our lives work."
The farm accepts young adults for an internship program that prepares them to take on all the work and responsibilities involved in managing a farm. And the Mader's program features the opportunity for the aspiring farmers to learn how to work horses from experienced teamsters in a practical agricultural setting. The interns live with and work directly with the Mader's when they are on the job.
Sustainable farm management to David and Deborah means efficiency, diversity, self-reliance and conservation. For example, recent improvements in their irrigation systems have reduced water use by 40%. They also utilize a "closed-loop" soil fertility system so that few farm soil amendments are needed. And they strive to maintain a balanced ecosystem where trees and other native perennials are encouraged to grow in the fence rows, and conifers and cottonwoods line the seasonal creek that serves as a corridor for wildlife like deer, elk, coyotes, bear, raccoons, mink and pileated woodpeckers.
"We think of the farm as an organism that's sustained by our relationship with Frontier. We're grateful for that relationship." David tells us. And David, we are just as grateful that we have a Well Earth partner like you.
© 2012 Frontier Natural Products Co-op. All rights reserved.