Sustainability Report 2019 - Report - Page 5
START WITH HEALTHY SOIL
In the early hours of the morning, the sun can be seen rising above
Healthy plants need healthy soil to thrive. Soil high in organic matter
the Blue Ridge mountains that encompass our farm. Overhead the
allows the plants to essentially grow themselves because they are
birds sing, and if you listen closer you can hear the gentle murmur of
receiving the nutrients that they need. This enables the plants to
Cathey’s Creek. Every morning is ideal, at least to Kate Renner, Farm
produce the desired phytochemicals for our herbal products.
Soil that is high in organic matter also acts as a carbon sink, trapping
“These moments in the early morning fill me with energy greater than
carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change. “We farm
any strong shot of coffee,” Renner said. “It lays the foundation of
almost as much carbon as we do all of the crops that grow on our farm,”
possibility for the day ahead. I bring this energy to greet our farm crew,
Leonard said. “It’s satisfying to look at our soil tests year after year and
and I see it passed between all of us and carry it to the fields.”
see that we are sequestering even more carbon.”
Maintaining a 350-acre Certified Organic farm takes more than ideal
In 2019, over 2,490 tons of CO2 were captured in the soil on the
mornings. It takes dedication, perseverance, and respect for the earth,
Gaia Herbs Farm, providing vital nutrients for the plants and
and it all begins deep within the soil.
microorganisms. That is the equivalent to CO2 emissions from the
Our farm contains an abundance of biodiversity, above and below
electricity used in approximately 422 homes in one year.
the earth. Regenerative agriculture is the key to maintaining this
Healthy soil helps protect the purity of the groundwater and creates
biodiversity and protecting the health of the planet.
more nutrient-dense and resilient plants. Regenerative agricultural
Regenerative agriculture goes beyond the approximately 20-30
species of herbs that are cultivated on our farm each year. It also
involves maintaining healthy soil, cover and herb crop rotation,
systems offer an alternative to the dominant monoculture system,
where a single crop is grown year after year on the same land,
depleting the soil health.
biodiversity management, and even extending educational resources
to our community.
“We are growing more life than just the plants we harvest,” said
Thomas Leonard, Farm Operations Manager. “We are really repairing
the entire ecosystem.”
REGENERATIVE FARMING PRACTICES ON THE GAIA FARM
•Cover Crop Rotation: We practice cover crop rotation throughout the
year on at least 100 acres to improve soil health.
•Soil Building: After harvest, we turn any plant residuals back into the soil
to increase organic soil matter.
•Herb Crop Rotation: We rotate crops annually or biannually to prevent
the nutrient depletion that occurs with monoculture farming.
•Biodiversity Management: We plant an average of 20-30 species of
herbs and over 100 species of fruits and vegetables to support a strong
and balanced ecosystem.
•Soil Fertility Plan: We apply a simple blend of plant-based ingredients
that act as probiotics for the soil.
SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2019 // PLANTS // P.5
Operations Assistant Manager.