Tillie Adventures Continue
In our earlier post “Tillie Adventures: Our Table Farm” we profiled Narendra Varma and highlighted his mission to promote harmony through the power of collaboration in the multi-functional business cooperative, Our Table Farm.
Our Table is interested in harmonizing human interactions on the farm and also focused on managing their land in a biodynamic way. Here we highlight some of their methods for achieving bio-sustainability and about how Tillie could help Our Table achieve their goals while reducing their use of fossil fuels.
Our Table practices crop rotation and uses various cover crops to maintain healthy soils They also strive to reduce fossil fuel emissions by limiting tractor use and deliver some of their CSA boxes via an electric bike, whose batteries are powered by their barn’s solar panels.
“We want a business system that supports the ethics of land management. Just going organic isn’t sufficient anymore.”
Our Table not only is striving to be ethical and sustainable but also extending their practices beyond just growing organically This includes balancing at least 9 acres of their vast hillside between annual and perennial crops, rotating livestock grazing, rebuilding wetlands, using solar power and creating more on farm living spaces.
“If all you’re trying to do is maximize short term profit then you are going to treat the land in one way” says Narendra. “But if you’re really trying to look at it in a long sustainable way then you are going to treat the land differently.”
That’s where the idea for creating a cooperative has emerged.
“It’s still a for-profit business model”, Narendra says, “and it’s more in line with the ethics of land management that we are looking for.
This land—all 62 acres of it—requires constant labor from the members of Our Table. And in the hot summer months when weeding gets tough they are always looking for alternatives to conventional farming practices.
“We as a society use fossil fuels as an everyday tool,” says Narendra. “It’s so ‘cheap’ right now people do it without even thinking – it’s so easy.”
Narendra admits, that he does like his tractors, but tries to limit their use on the fields. Instead Our Table uses a variety of hoes for weed control.
“We want to use tools in the best possible way. Tools should be assistive because we’re not trying to replace a person.”
Our Table farm managers Paul Shaw and Josh Volk instantly saw the appeal of the Tillie and were excited to give it a go. They gave both Tillie and the soon to be released Solo Wheel Hoe the kind of work-out one would expect.
“Let’s get them out in the field and see if these pretty things work.”
They tried some precision tilling in a cornfield inter-planted with squash that was starting to be overrun by weeds. Then moved on to the upper fields where a variety of smartweed has been outsmarting the plants.
Both Tillie and the Solo Wheel Hoe made quick work of overgrown weeds and Tillie was excellent for hilling up the rows of leeks. The farm team took turns using the tools for just about every imaginable purpose.
“There is no doubt this is a useable and versatile tool.”