Heartwood Farms is an integrated farming project at Heartwood Co-housing in Bayfield with an aim to provide a food base to its own members and a link to the larger community.
The community includes 30 acres of agricultural land: 2½ acres are currently cultivated with vegetables, and 8 acres is reserved for hay and pasture.
The farm is administered by Bevan Williams and Ted Pasternack, who both learned to garden from their grandmothers many years ago.
Williams' first commercial experience was in 1980, when he grew produce sold to Albertsons, Safeway and IGA distribution centers. He has been growing uncertified organic since 1996, striving to go far beyond organic standards by incorporating biodynamic principles. The farm's soil-renewal practices focus on increasing the biodiversity of the soil using goat and chicken manure.
"We feed the soil, and find healthy soil promotes healthy plant growth," said Williams.
The majority of the seed used at Heartwood has been grown by Williams over the course of many years.
Acclimatized seed is important to local food production, as it yields plants that produce best in a given climate.
At Heartwood, detailed records are kept of specific growing practices, with the goal to provide advice and counsel to others who wish to grow their own food. They support community gardens and home gardeners, and will gladly contribute their available seed.
"We feel education is important, and have an intern program to provide learning experiences to others with an interest in the future of local, clean, healthy foods and a connection to the earth that expresses itself through the heart," Williams said.
They also believe they must go beyond organic to a higher local standard of excellence that is open to public observation.
"The entrance into the organic scene by 'agri-business,' which can grow in volume at a lower profit margin, risks squeezing out the local growers, leaving consumers solely dependent upon an international and corporate supply," Williams said. "Consumers must regain control of the food supply on a local level, insuring high quality and self determination."
At Heartwood, they believe a healthy, local food system promotes a stronger local currency and local economy.
Heartwood Farms offers a wide variety of vegetables at farmers markets, natural-food stores and local restaurants.
They welcome visits from anyone interested in learning their garden and farming practices, or in purchasing food directly from the fields.
Call Pasternack at 759-8285 or Williams at 769-0246.
Marje Cristol owns Linnaea Farm in Durango and sells cut flowers and goat-milk cheeses. She also serves on the Durango Farmers Market board. Reach her at 946-2712 or marje@LinnaeaFarm.com.