Every season in our education fields and garden is an opportunity for learning, both for students and staff. There was even more skill building and data gathering this year and it was our first full cycle maintaining one of our field with no tillage. This involved a lot more forethought and time in prepping beds for planting (which took a minute to get the hang of).

In addition to being healthier for the environment, the technique provided even more opportunities for youth in our programs to be involved in the process. With their help, in the spring, we planted hearty crops of summer, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, dill, parsley, and lots of flowers! In the summer we planted lesser known heirloom tomatoes, beans, popcorn, and lots of winter squash.

The summer and fall seasons were defined by our battle with deer. The pressure from these beautiful, but sometimes destructive creatures was much greater than previous years. This is probably related to the drought. We often see many wild animals move down out of the mountains as conditions get drier. TO manage the heavy deer pressure this late summer, we tried a small moveable fence and even a portable radio, but barely kept them at bay. We noticed much less deer presence around our garlic planting and made a plan to plant garlic around the perimeters of our fields next year.

Despite the constant nightly visits, we thought at least our beautiful tomatoes would survive along with our thriving sunflowers. Unfortunately, as can easily happen in shared spaces some much needed help mowing around the field led to our small fence being left open one night. The deer found this a pleasant surprise and managed to mow down the entire crop. Our gorgeous, bountiful, no till heirloom tomatoes were all but gone!

After that, we ended up with about 8 beautiful heirloom tomatoes. They were absolutely delicious, and everyone enjoyed them on the farm.  Alas, we did not get the harvest we hoped for, but in our education fields we learn just as much or more from failure as we do from success. Here are some photos of some the crops we yielded. We’ve already developed our crop plan for next year and are excited for the opportunity to continue learning and growing!

If you’re interested in exploring the world of no till agriculture with us, please reach out to education.associate@farmdiscovery.org, we would love to have you join us in the fields next spring!