Great food needs great soil. Soil is a combination of dirt, organic matter, minerals and microorganisms. Since World War II much of our commercial agriculture has ignored the value of soil. Instead farmers have treated it as if it were a hydroponic material—a medium that only needs to hold whatever chemicals the farmer adds. Most of the nation’s farms now grow only one crop, eliminating the benefits of crop rotations. This shortsighted approach has led to massive soil erosion and a gradual decline in the mineral and organic content of the soils. At Prairie Harvest we are dedicated to nurturing the soil. Our soil is full of earthworms, the best composting creatures on earth. We add our own compost and organic matter. We rotate our crops to insure that we replenish our soil every year.
It takes water to grow vegetables and in this day water is a very valuable commodity. Prairie Harvest Organics seeks to use our water in the most efficient way possible. Years ago our farm was flood irrigated, one of the least efficient irrigation methods. Now we use a combination of sprinkler and drip irrigation. We plan on converting entirely to drip irrigation within the next two years. This will allow us to grow all of our crops with the absolute minimum amount of water. In these days of water scarcity it is hard to believe that there are farmers in California who still flood irrigate. Some of their crops are the most water hungry crops, such as rice or almonds. We all need to do the best job possible to establish sustainable agricultural practices.
While we are proud of our use of the soil and water resources at our disposal, we couldn’t deliver great food without the right varieties of crops. For years plant breeders developed varieties with better yields, appearance and ability to ship long distances. Nutrition got left behind. At Prairie Harvest we use mostly heirloom varieties known for their flavor and nutrition. We have all four of the potato varieties listed on the Slow Foods Ark of Taste. We have the only melon honored by Slow Foods. Our other melons are known in Europe as the crème de la crème of cantaloupes. We value our strawberries for their flavor, not how well they ship from California to Colorado. Our watermelons taste sweet and juicy. They aren’t tough enough to spend a thousand miles in a truck. This means that most consumers never see the produce that we grow every day because the large commercial farms don’t grow these varieties. Consumers can taste the difference with the first bite.
Great food requires attention to detail. Prairie Harvest Organics strives to pay attention to all the details—the soil, the water, the plants and the varieties. We have to have the patience to wait until the fruit is ripe, when the flavor is at its best, before we harvest. We know that we have done our job when our customers smile after their first bite.