A New Way for Small Farmers to be Profitable – the No-Till Technique

DSCN4242In Late April, Sierra Harvest organized a No-till Farm Tour to Hillview Farms in Auburn and Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol. Fourteen attendees, including two Sierra Harvest board members and staff, made the trip.  It was highly educational and inspiring, and could have big implications for small farmers. The tours, hosted by Michael  Whamond of Hillview and Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser of Singing Frogs, showcased a farming technique known as “No Till” where instead of digging up the soil each year or each season, farmers disturb the ground as little as possible and keep plants in the ground all the time, with any bare ground covered by black plastic. This allows farmers to plant a small area in quick succession, getting a lot more produce on a tiny plot over the course of a growing season.

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Attendees at Hillview Farm

Kwong Chew, board member at Sierra Harvest, shared how this method can help small farmers to be more profitable: “Using this High-Nutrient, High-Yield method, these farmers have financially viable businesses and livelihoods. Hillview in Auburn, is about an acre and farmers Michael and Shannon are the only ones working it, with no additional staff! Amazing!” Malaika Bishop, co-director at Sierra Harvest, agrees: “They showed us that you don’t need ten acres and a tractor to make a living farming. The farms we toured were between one and three acres, and they were more than supporting their families.”

For more information about the farms and no-till farming, check out the farm websites.