Innovative vegetable growers (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at calypso-2.oit.unc.edu
Tue Oct 10 23:13:18 EDT 1995


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 10 Oct 1995 21:40:30 GMT
From: Nancy E. Matheson <nmatheson at desktop.org>
To: ncreamer at plymouth.ces.state.nc.us
Cc: sanet-mg at amani.ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: Re: Innovative vegetable growers

In response to your request for names of innovative vegetable growers, here's
my favorite:

Helen Atthowe
1541 S. Burnt Fork Road
Stevensville, Montana 59870
phone: (406) 777-3723

Helen's specialty is organically grown tomatoes, peppers and flowers for the
dried floral trade. She's one of the few commercial growers (field, not
greenhouse) of these warm season crops in this harsh northern climate--in
fact that is a source of her innovation. Helen's nutrient management involves
living mulches between the beds and her own microbial inoculant, which she
applies to the roots of the plants upon setting them out. (The inoculant is a
formula of compost tea amended with minerals and other ingredients.) With the
living mulches and the inoculant she controls the soil microbial
activity--timing and intensity--and thus soil nutrient availability,
stimulating the greatest microbial activity at key points in the growing
season. Because she can stimulate high levels of microbial activity in
relatively cold, spring soils, she is competing quite well with conventional
growers for the early markets, growers who typically use fertilizer to
provide the nutrients needed for that early season growth spurt. She can also
assure consistent high quality. She's basically using soil microbes to extend
the growing season on the front end, rather than lots of physical means
commonly used to warm the soil and protect the plants against frost. Helen's
farm has experienced frost in every month of the year, to give you an idea of
the harshness of her climate.

Helen is the recipient of a 1995 USDA Western Region SARE Producer-Initiated
grant to further investigate the best ways to manage living mulches in
intensive organic vegetable cropping for nutrient, weed, insect pest and
disease management.

===============
Nancy Matheson
AERO
25 S. Ewing, #214
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 443-7272
nmatheson at desktop.org
================

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