In nature, much of life occurs at the interface of soil, water, air and sun. Edges and intersections foster innovation, creativity, and invention. Allowing interactions between plant species, animals, soil, water, and land help to foster resilience, productivity, and adaptation on Oliview Farm.
We are a 5-acre farm nestled in the center of Happy Valley in Shasta County, CA. The farm hosts Mission Olive trees planted in the late 1800s. They were planted at 40-foot intervals to accommodate interplanting of fruit trees. The original fruit trees are long gone, but we are still enjoying olive oil from these beautiful trees, crossing many generations and cultures.
Oliview Farm employs the French Intensive method of farming in our market garden. This method, employed in France between 1500 and 1900, fed a Parisian population of 1 million on about 1,500 acres: about 0.0015 acres/person, or 65 square feet (in 1844; Weathers, 1909). In today’s mostly-conventional agriculture, the average requirement is 2.18 acres/person (table 2 in Cassidy et al, 2013).
Our double-dug beds, with soil loosened to a depth of 24 inches, facilitate root growth and improve water retention. The health and vigor of the soil are maintained through the use of compost crops. Close plant spacing is used to protect soil microorganisms, reduce water loss, and maximize yields. A focus on the production of carbon for the soil ensures that both the farmer and the soil will be adequately fed and that the farm will be sustainable. This method feeds directly into our farm mission statement:
Approach the production and provision of food with respect for the innate dignity and beauty of each player in the process – seed, soil, animals, people – as well as the process itself.
This local, community-based approach to agriculture holds huge power and promise as a tool for addressing some of our society's core challenges, including those of local economy, individual health, climate change and energy availability, and food security. We look forward to travelling this path with you!