Weeds are every farmer’s bane. Eradicating them without the use of herbicides can be a daunting battle that consumes days of time for our crew every summer (and still we don’t catch up!). But at A Rocha we are committed to farming practices that are good for the land and good for people. So, how to get rid of those pesky weeds?
Sometimes the solution involves looking backwards as well as forward — reaching back in time and rediscovering old ways of getting work done. In our quest for methods or tools to help us stay ahead of the weed onslaught we learned about “Planet Jr.” tractors – nimble little 2-wheeled machines that were the backbone of thousands of small market farms in the first half of the 20th century.
With the increase in farm size post-WWII, these machines were eclipsed by larger 4 wheeled tractors and largely forgotten for the past 6+ decades. This winter we acquired two of these tractors, restored them and are putting them to use in our fields. The tractors are no more mechanically complex than a lawn-mower but do their job with satisfying effectiveness. In a culture that is obsessed with technology built on principles of planned obsolescence (the design principle that plans for a product to be obsolete and replaced by another product within a short time frame) we’re grateful to have found tools that still work well even 100 years after they first hit the market.
Of course, tools are only as important as the goal they help us achieve. While we find the Planet Jr. tractors to be an effective and fun tool to use, what we really value is that they are helping us “get out of the weeds” so that we can do our core work of stewarding the soil and grow food for our CSA members.
To find out more about our CSA program, click here.