Newest Residents at the Garlic Farm: The Three Little Pigs

Pigs at Green Mountain GarlicMeet the newest members of the team at Green Mountain Garlic: The Three Little Pigs.

Despite the rain that is deluging Vermont this month, these little guys are already at work cleaning up the Quackgrass, fertilizing and tilling the soil for future garlic plots.

These little pigs are like roaming rototillers. They love to root! They are cleaning up the soil by eating the Quackgrass and aerating the earth along the way.

If you are not familiar with it, Quackgrass, or Agropyron (meaning ‘sudden field of fire’), is a fast-growing perennial weed that takes over fields and gardens like a flash. It has been in the US for more than 200 years and grows in every state except Hawaii, Arizona and Florida. The Three Little Pigs are working on adding Vermont to this list of exceptions!

Three Little Pigs at the Garlic FarmThe other great job these Quackgrass-Eliminators are doing is fertilizing the soil. Factory farms cannot exist without chemical fertilizers, but thanks to our newest residents (the pigs and our new chickens), this Vermont family farm can!

But it’s not easy. It takes patience and a great deal of forethought. The use of animal manure in the farming of organic foodstuffs is very tightly regulated by NOFA. In fact, “The restrictions on the application of raw animal manure for organic producers go well beyond those imposed on non-organic producers.” Here’s the full NOFA policy.

By keeping the pigs in an area of the farm that will not be planted until next year or the following year, we are meeting the regulations. Specifically: “Raw animal manure must be composted unless it is incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles.”

The pigs and the rain are doing a great job of incorporating the fertilizer into the soil at the moment. Time, tilling, and hopefully a little sunshine will finish the job next year. Good thing these little pigs have a house made of wood, with all this rain a house of straw just wouldn’t cut it.

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