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Permaculture is short for 'Permanent Agriculture' and it is a style of agriculture that recognizes the farm as an ecosystem. In nature the relationships and interactions between plants and animals in a landscape form complex self sustaining systems. A farm can be designed so that crops and livestock similarly create an ecosystem and productivity is generated through the interactions and relationships that they form. Permaculture is the creation of an ecosystem that supports agriculture, rather than the conventional system where agriculture dominates natural ecology. People like Bill Mollison have worked to create a framework of concepts that can be used to establish a permaculture system. For detailed information go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture.
Why are grass fed beef and pasture raised pork more expensive than what's at the supermarket?
There are many reasons, but they all have to do with time and space. Firstly, compared to livestock raised in a barn and fed grain, the animals grow slower when raised outdoors because the grass they eat is less calorie dense and they expend more calories to forage for it. This means that it takes more time to raise a cow or pig to market weight, which means more work and expense for the farmer. Secondly, raising cows and pigs on pasture requires lots of land for the animals to graze, and land is very expensive. A rough estimate is that one acre of pasture can support one cow or 8 pigs per year. But if you keep your animals in a barn and use the land to grow grain to feed the animals rather than grass, than you can feed many more animals with the same amount of land. Perhaps a better question that this answer would fit would be 'why are supermarket beef and pork so cheap?' Historically, meat has always been expensive and has always been raised outdoors, it's only since barn raised grain fed livestock became the norm that meat became cheap.
Timberline Farm's land management is guided by the Canadian Organic Production Systems Standards (For more information about go to http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/organic/certification.htm), however, due to the expense and certain limitations involved, the farm has not applied for certification.
In our food production system we do not use pesticides of any sort. However, parts of the farm have been colonized by certain invasive plant species such as garlic mustard, cat mint, buckthorn and pampas grass. It is important for our native wildlife to eliminate these species. So far this has been done completely organically using lots of elbow grease except for one time in 2011 when a stand of garlic mustard of several hundred square feet was sprayed with an herbicide. It is possible that in the future such action may again be necessitated, but hopefully not.
No, antibiotics are not a standard part of our livestock production system. However, in accordance with the Canadian Organic Production Systems Standards and to avoid the suffering of our animals, if an animal requires the use of antibiotics to treat an illness or affliction then it is done. For example, in 2013, a pig injured its foot and an infection set in that required medical intervention, two injections of penicillin were used to treat the pig. In these very rare instances the animal is kept from being slaughtered for a minimum of twice as long as the amount of time the medicine takes to leave the animals system to guarantee that all traces of it are gone from the animal. So if the label says it takes three weeks for the medicine to completely leave the animal, 6 weeks would be the minimum amount of time waited before the animal is slaughtered.
Absolutely! If you would like to visit Timberline Farm to see first hand how the farm is managed go to the 'Contact' page and fill out the contact form with your request, or you can either call or email Timberline Farm, and a visit can be arranged with the farmer.
Yes, one of the fundamental forces that drives Timberline Farm is the free sharing of information. Feel free to call or email with your questions.