We are having an Ecological Farmers of Ontario Tour here on Saturday, July 5. The following is a handout that Ken wrote for the tour. It gives information about various alternative energy projects on the farm as well as general information about crops rotation.
Orchard Hill Farm
Straw Bale Bunkhouse
· Just dormitory – no kitchen – no bathroom
· Inside dimensions 20’ x 24’ – 2 bedrooms downstairs -1 bedroom upstairs.
· Straw bales for roof insulation as well approx. 450 bales in total – will be plastered inside and out.
· Special vented slab floor to increase heat storage created by 8” concrete blocks laid on side to create north-south passage to allow circulation under floor as well. 4 vents on north and south edge up through 6” floor slab to facilitate circulation of air.
· 2 relatively large sliding doors in south wall to facilitate solar gain.
PV system 2- 65w PV panels – 330 watts total
· 2-6v batteries for storage
· 300 watt inverter
· Designed to use very little power – just lights & a few small appliances.
· Parts cost for PV system approx. $3500 excludes 120v AC wiring and breaker box.
Solar Water Heater
· 2 used panels approx. 40 years old.
· Since storage tank is our electrical water heater in basement of house need circulation pump to move hot water to storage tank.
· Strategy – since only hot water when sun is shining can use PV panel to drive pump (no battery in system).
· Need special low power pump to reduce size of pump & panel needed to drive it.
· Pump – SID 10 PV by Ivan Labs Inc. ($300) draws approx. 1 amp powered by 10 watt PV panel ($100).
· Even with electric back up turned off has been supplying all of our hot water for past month for 6-7 people.
· Non-glycol system – must be drained for winter.
· Our winter system uses water coil in stove thermo – siphoning to adjacent tank.
PV System for Horse Barn – Lights
· 12 v DC system throughout for simplicity
· 50 watt PV panel
· small charge controller
· 12v DC breakers also used as switches to reduce length of wiring runs.
· Requires use of #10 and # 12 wire to reduce voltage drop in long runs.
· Large wire sizes expensive and hard to work with because stiff and bulky.
· 1 – RV 12 v battery for storage.
· 25 watt – 12v DC incandescent bulbs used – cheap, but use a lot of power.
· Marginal amount of power and storage with present bulbs – could switch to LED bulbs when prices become more reasonable to reduce power consumption.
Orchard Hill Farm
34 acres Owned
46 acres Rented
OHF established in 1979 – was part of Martha’s family’s farm. Soils vary from clay loams up on top of the ridge to sandy loams at the base of the ridge. The farm is located 6 km from Lake Erie which moderates the local climate. Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) garden was started in 1997 by Martha and our daughter Ellen with 25 shares the first year. We have 160 shares this year. A share costs $500 or $465 for a working share, where members spend 5 hours helping with the harvest. CSA crops occupy about 5.5 acres. The remaining crop land is used for hay, pasture and grain crops to provide all the feed for 9 horses, 4 pigs and 40 laying hens.
The greenhouse is 15’ x 20’. It is used for growing transplants and is often augmented by a 4’ x 16’ hot bed. It is heated by a wood stove with a lot of concrete thermal mass to hold heat over night. It has worked well.
Weed control has many aspects. First the nutrients in the soil need to be balanced and appropriate for the crop. A proper rotation and cover crop strategy needs to be used to prevent weed problems. Most of our crops are planted in single 36” rows (with the exception of mesclun and head lettuces which are planted in 4 row beds) so as to allow the use of a team of horses for cultivation of the rows. The use of rolling shields allows the cultivation of crops before they emerge or shortly after without the danger of burying them. A CSA garden requires a very flexible and adaptable row cultivator as there are many different corps and different stages of the same crop. Old 1 row 2 horse cultivators were very flexible and adjustable. Wheel hoes, hand hoes and hand weeding are also used to prevent weeds from competing with the crop or adding to the weed seed bank in the soil.
· 1 year cover crops – buckwheat/winter rye
· 1 year vegetables
· 2 years hay which is cut and left
· 1 year sweet corn (compost before sweet corn)
· 1 year potatoes (want high fertility – but not recent)
· 1 year squash – heavily mulched for weed control and fertility.
Field Crop rotation
· 1 year winter wheat hard red – variety Harvard / red clover
· 1 year oats / alfalfa and grass
· 2 years hay
· 3 years pasture
· Pond holds 500,000 U.S. gallons
· Small stream diverted into pond to fill it – summer flow very low.
· Moveable aluminum pipe with sprinklers or 4 ft. risers
· Takes 2 hours for set of sprinklers to apply 1” water.
· Vegetable crops need 1” water per week.
· Takes 40,000 U.S. gallons to apply 1” to an acre
· Pond size just big enough for present acreage.