We are doing things differently at Rose Hill Farm. At the beginning of the 2018 season, we decided to switch from managing our orchard using an Integrated Pest Management system to a Bio-Intensive, Holistic framework. Simply put, our mission at Rose Hill is to grow the healthiest, most flavorful and nutritious fruit possible while also being responsible stewards of the land. It has become our primary tenet to foster the health of the whole orchard ecosystem. Our approach is rooted in organic orchard management and draws on many biodynamic principals. To reestablish a natural balance in our orchard, we focus on soil fertility, tree health and improved biodiversity.
What specifically is different about our bio-intensive, holistic orchard management practice?
We focus on the health of the orchard as a whole. Rather than a formulaic approach to applying synthetic fertilizers, we spend much of our time fostering a diverse, nutrient rich environment by building levels of organic matter in the soil, promoting a rich fungal under-story for our trees, providing nutrition through applications of organic materials, and encouraging the growth and development of beneficial microorganisms on our trees and in the soil. While conventional orchard management systems are effective, they typically focus on removing the bad, rather than encouraging the good.
What are our goals in using a bio-intensive, holistic management practice?
The entire team at Rose Hill Farm is committed to growing the healthiest and tastiest fruit possible for our customers while employing farming practices that promote agricultural regeneration and sustainability. While this will come at the expense of cosmetically perfect, unblemished fruit, we think it is worth it for the long-term viability of the land and sustainability of the orchard. In the first year of our transition, we were able to remove over 80% of the synthetic inputs that are used in a conventional management system. While not a main goal, once our transition is complete, we expect to be able to have our crops certified organic.
What does the transition entail and how long will it take?
This question is a tough one to answer since we don’t know all the challenges we will encounter or the latent issues we will find in the orchard as we significantly scale back the use of synthetic inputs. The best answer is that the transition is a process through which we will increase the use of organic inputs, reduce and ideally eliminate synthetic inputs, and foster the development of a healthier ecosystem.