Resources I've Helped to Develop
In the past 15 years or so, I have written on multiple topics related to organics, sustainable farming, and small-scale agriculture. The great majority of the publications that resulted are available through the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma. I've provided links to many of them below.
About Organic Agriculture
Organic farming and gardening originated as a soil-based approach that focused on conserving and nurturing soil biology, and allowing that web of life to grow strong, disease-resistant crops. Organic pioneers, and proponents that followed them, believed this to be a sustainable strategy for truly healthy food production. In the interest of protecting soil biological life, organic growers do not use most synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. For a detailed discourse on the subject, see: A Brief Overview of the History and Philosophy of Organic Agriculture.
Innovations in Crop Rotations, Cover Crops, and Organic No-Till
In my last years as an employee of The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, I worked to develop a more sustainable model for organic market farming. The major management goals include limiting reliance on off-farm fertility inputs (especially poultry litter) and suppression of bermudagrass and other weeds. The result is a highly-promising bioextensive rotation model that relied heavily on covercropping, including summer green fallow. For details see: Market Farming with Rotations and Cover Crops: An Organic Bio-Extensive System and Organic Bio-Extensive Management Revisited. As part of the focus on diverse crop rotations, was a desire to promote beneficial insect habitats. We were featured as a case study in the Xerces Society Guide: Farming with Native Beneficial Insects For further details, see: Cover Crops as Beneficial Insect Habitats.
The National Organic Regulations are hard to read and understand. Certified growers receive a lot of guidance through the certification process, making them aware of what they can and cannot do or use. Exempt growers (annual organic sales less than $5000) do not have the same guidance. Several years ago, I wrote a booklet that small growers can use to assess their compliance; that market managers and buyers can use to evaluate sellers; that consumers can use to get a good idea of what organic growers do. To access a copy, see: Small Scale Organics: A Guidebook for the Non-certified Organic Grower
Consumers and gardeners have been increasingly interested heirloom (aka: heritage) vegetables, flowers and other plants. Much of my work at the Kerr Center focused on them. The rationale for that work was presented as: Heirloom Vegetables, Genetic Diversity, and the Pursuit of Food Security
Sweet Sorghum Syrup
During the 1980s and early 1990s, I helped the Kerr Center establish a small commercial syrup operation, as well as set the stage for fall festivals that ran for several years. At that time, I wrote a manual for growers wishing to start a small syrup operation. In 2019, I updated it. You can find the manual at: Sweet Sorghum: Production and Processing, Second Edition
Walk-Behind Tractors, Wheelhoes, Broadforks, and Other Small Farming Tools
I have long had an interest in small-scale farming technology. My last decade at the Kerr Center allowed me to explore this to a great degree. Three publications resulted from this effort: Farming with Walk-Behind Tractors Small-Scale Technology and Practices for Sweet Potato Growing in Southeast Oklahoma and Small-Scale Gardening Technology at the Kerr Center’s Cannon Horticulture Project