Of course what farm wouldn’t start with saying, “We are focused on producing deliciously tasting foods.”? The real difference in how our foods taste starts with the health of our soil. It is here in the minerals of the soil that flavor is enhanced and, most importantly, the nutrient-density of the food is built. Nutrient-rich foods are the critical element of the food world that most conventional farming practices have unintentionally left behind.
In growing our food we refuse to compromise the health of the land, its wildlife, our farm crew or the humane treatment of our livestock. How does a farm go about achieving all of these idealistic goals?
The farm is treated as a micro-ecosystem managed through methods best described as biomimicry mimicking the biological balance found in our earth’s ecosystem allows for a less destructive and healthier farm. In fact, the methods enhance the land, wildlife habitat, and the life of those who work it and the food it grows. We do all of this through managing our biodiversity and applying regenerative soil farming methods.
We use regenerative soil methods that cycle the nutrients, to feed the plants, inform the flavors, and heal the environment. Keeping our soils covered with grasses and legumes feeds the microbes, holds in moisture and, as an added bonus, sequesters atmospheric carbon which heals the environment. The foods raised and grown on our farm are nurtured without the use of pesticides, soy, hormones or other chemical inputs. The animals live on wide-open pastures full of grass and are humanely treated. Explore our practices below
We believe in transparency of our farming operation. If the information you are looking for cannot be found here, send any questions about our farm to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You hear this a lot now, "Soil is our most important asset" and well…this isn’t just talk on our farm! Focusing on the health of our soil enables the health of everything else, including the crops, animals, and people. Regenerative soil practices such as compost teas; manure compost; beneficial plants and insects; a diverse cover crop of grasses, legumes, and weeds; all combined lends to a healthier eco-system from which nutrient-dense food can grow. As an added bonus, this method of keeping our soils covered with grasses sequesters carbon directly out of the atmosphere and puts it back into the Earth. (See Carbon Sequestration). We have less disease in our crops and more nutrients available for our trees and plants. We can't take credit for this ingenious method, we're just imitating nature's finest flywheel system, the ecosystem.
Carbon Sequestration and Cover Cropping
Simply planting a diverse mix of grasses not only helps our farm’s soil and ecosystem but also helps aid in the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This process is better known as Carbon Sequestration, which is the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming and avoid dangerous climate change. It has been proposed as a way to slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases. This model is now being promoted around the world as an important tool in the fight against climate change.
We’re still talking about soil here! If we want our plants to rely on the soil for nutrients and not entirely on outside inputs, then we must have soil with loads of microbes (good bacteria) to help break down organic matter (dead grass, roots, bugs, leaves) and turn it into nutrients that feed the plants. Our Fertility Center’s purpose is to enhance that process. Our full-scale vermicomposting operation (or worm poop composting) uses microbe-rich cow manure from the pasture, which is placed in aerated bins to kill off bad pathogens and partially decompose. We mix this manure with juicing scraps and feed it to our 500,000 plus worms living in a 40-foot long bin. The worms eat their way through the material and as it is processed through their digestive track, the bacteria diversity is enhanced creating vermicompost. These worm castings are either used in their solid form around the farm or placed into a Compost Tea Brewer to, yet again, increase microbial counts. Finally, this extremely fertile material is irrigated onto our soils.
Managed Intensive Grazing
The health of the soil, pastures, orchards and animals all depend on the consistent and planned movement of our animals. In nature, animals do not stay in one spot as a precautionary measure to avoid predators. At Apricot Lane Farms we mimic a predator-prey relationship by keeping the animals on the move as to not overgraze the lands. We use a combination of methods that include managed intensive grazing and rotational grazing so that we do not overgraze the lands and we properly rest and restore the pastures. Our sheep, cows, and chickens follow each other through sections of pasture, grazing on lush grass and fertilizing the land. Then, they are quickly moved off to greener pastures. They eat down 1/3 of the grass, trample 1/3, and leave 1/3 behind. This enhances grass re-growth, prevents overgrazing of their favorites grasses and finally, the trampling of the grasses feeds the earth worms and microbes while slowly converting it to the precious humus that ultimately creates our top soil.
We treat our animals humanely and with the upmost respect. First they eat grass, leaves and weeds just as nature intended. We move them to new pastures often and in a calm, stress-free manner. They are provided with protection from predators by the loving and loyal livestock guardian dog team. Using preemptive health methods, we have never had to rely on the use of antibiotics and chemical de-wormers for our animals. We have never used any type of growth hormone. Through the proper rest of pastures, balance of copper in their diet, free choice Diatomaceous Earth and a bit of fermented apple cider vinegar in their water, we help buffer our livestock from common illnesses found on conventional farms. It’s not easy to do this but we have seen the benefits and over time we have developed a very hardy, healthy line of Dorper sheep, Scottish Highland cattle and Red Wattle pig. All of this care translates into healthier food.
Our meat is soy-free and comes from humanely treated animals that live out in the sunshine and are free to roam. They are never given hormones or antibiotics. Traditional cultures valued the fat of animals almost more than the meat, and we harken back to tradition and focus on producing a high-quality fat in our animals. Chefs from all over the country seek out our meat for its flavor and fat quality.
Our pond is the largest privately-owned native restoration project in Ventura County, CA. Native species trees, grasses, and forbs surround the pond to create a habitat for birds, pollinators, and predator insects. Our specially developed floating, plant-filled islands with their roots dangling in the water below pull the nitrogen and phosphorous out of the water and use it as food. Many wild native birds, including Night Herons, Egrets, Coots, and Mallard Ducks have discovered our haven and now call the pond home. We plant hundreds of native milkweed around the pond every year, which feeds the monarch butterfly. Each year their numbers have grown. The Monarch is known to scientists as a sign of a healthy ecosystem.
We get our bees from rescued hives that would otherwise be destroyed by an exterminator. Since 2013, Kirk Anderson and Walker Rollins, Rescue Beekeepers have been re-homing these native feral hives to our farm. Here we manage the bees the same way we do everything else, without any chemicals or conventional medicines. We collect some of the honey and pollen from the 30 plus hives use it in our products.
From the over 75 varieties of Biodynamic certified fruit we grow, we produce product lines of marmalades, fruit butters, fruit leathers, hot sauces, and more.
From the soil to the animals, we take being stewards of this land seriously and treat every entity with respect. We believe in transparency of our farming operation. If the information you are looking for cannot be found here, send any questions about our farm to email@example.com.
We have a small herd of Scottish Highland Cattle, the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world, that graze our pastures and produce manure for our compost. They are on a strict grass-only diet and follow the managed intensive grazing process through our biodynamic certified pastures. We also have one Brown Swiss dairy cow, Maggie, whose fresh raw milk we feed to our growing pigs.
We raise Dorper lambs that rotate daily to forage on fresh green pastures and orchards. Other than grass, the only things in our lambs’ diets are free-choice minerals and apple cider vinegar in their water. They are never given antibiotics or hormones. They give lamb (birth) in our pastures and raise their young until natural weaning occurs.
Our endangered heritage breed of pig is called the Red Wattle. We cross them with Large Blacks and Berkshires. The piglets are farrowed (birthed) in the farm woods where they remain with the sow for over 30 days, giving ample time to build up their immunity and well…learn how to be pigs. They spend the days beneath the Pepper and Mulberry trees rooting in the soil for grubs. Their organic supplemental feed has NO soy and NO GMOs. Their fresh drinking water consists of apple cider vinegar for optimal gut health. We do not believe in the use of antibiotics or growth hormones for any animal sold as food to our customers. Instead we focus on preemptive health measures and sound husbandry practices.
We have several breeds of laying chickens including Rhode Island Red, Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Blue Andalusian, Cream Legbar, Black Copper Maran, and Cuckoo Marans. The hens and roosters spend their days foraging on fresh green pasture and in our orchards - following the sheep and cows in the rotational grazing gives them access to more bugs and grubs for an extremely diverse diet. They are given an organic, non-GMO, soy-free supplemental feed, as well as access to free-choice minerals and apple cider vinegar in their water. They are never given hormones or antibiotics. As the sun goes down, they instinctively put themselves away in their mobile chicken coops for safety from night predators. There they sleep on roosting bars until the next morning when their coops are moved and opened to lush grasses and legumes.
We have ducks because we have snails. In 2011, the snail population was devouring our tree leaves. Turns out, the best natural control method for snails is ducks! So now we raise Khaki Campbell ducks for their excellent foraging skills and high egg laying numbers. They, like the chickens, live in a mobile coop and travel through the orchards feasting on escargot. Apparently, we could have used chefs instead of ducks as several chefs have tried to buy our snails for use in their restaurants . . . but for now we let the ducks devour them and turn that into our amazing tasting ducks eggs. They are never given antibiotics or hormones and are given an organic, non-GMO, soy-free supplemental feed.
We introduced the guinea fowl to the farm in 2011 as another layer to our ecosystem pest management. These noisy, funny looking birds love ticks, aphids, squash bugs, and more. They fend for themselves drinking from puddles while foraging for food in the grass. Always on the move and roaming the farm 24/7, these stealth birds avoid coyote attacks by sleeping high in trees at night. Unlike the chicken, these chicks can fly up to 60 feet but only for short durations.
Sapphire and Rico are our workhorses. They have the tough job of helping us move the cattle and sheep across the farm to fresh pastures. When we’re at lunch, Rico enjoys untying his lead line and wandering over to help himself to hay. Sapphire, on the other hand, has been known to let herself out of the stall by sliding the stall door bolt open with her mouth and walking around the back of the barn to enjoy a few dozen apples from the apple basket. Otherwise, they are very well behaved team members.
Guardian Livestock Dogs
Since 2011 our flocks have been protected by the Great Pyrenese Mountain Dogs. Five guardian dogs are with our sheep all day, every day, rain or shine. We have raised hundreds of sheep without losing one lamb to a predator. No words can sum up this relationship between dog and sheep better than this short film.
We grow over 100 vegetables in our Biodynamic and Organically certified 1.5-acre garden to feed our staff and supply a few restaurants and private clients. Garden crops are rotated each year to confuse pests and allow soils to replenish. Beautiful native plants grow around the crops and draw in pollinators while cover crops aerate and enhance the soil of vacant beds. Vermicompost from our worm bin is spread throughout the beds to amend the soils.
We grow 75 varieties of Biodynamic and Organically certified fruit including avocados, stone fruits, citrus, and more. People often wonder why our fruit is so delicious. Well, that’s the soil! Our main focus is the regeneration of soil beneath those trees, which ultimately enhances tree health and fruit flavor. Beneath our trees, you’ll find an assortment of grasses, nitrogen fixing legumes, native weeds, and flowers for the pollinators. As an added bonus, our grass-covering methods sequester carbon from the atmosphere and help to reverse climate change. These regenerative practices mixed with our compost teas offer the soil, and subsequently the plants, a diversity of nutrients that inform flavor! Keep checking our online store for our Biodynamic product lines made from these fruits.