Note: this profile was written in 2008 after visiting Unexpected Farm, and some information may no longer be up to date.
Farmers Bill and Linda have 65 acres of land in Watkin’s Glen, New York. Most of the land is uncultivated, leaving natural spaces and habitats for wildlife. They farm about 3 acres of the land, and have used veganic practices since they began farming in 2001. On a separate part of their holding live two rescued animals, a cow and a goat, who enjoy 4 acres of fenced pasture.
Unexpected Farm grows herbs, winter greens, root vegetables, beans, peas, lettuce, squash, strawberries, asparagus, peppers, and more. They also grow their own transplants at the farm. Their produce is Certified Naturally Grown, which is a low-cost certification program for small farmers, based on standards that are similiar to USDA organic. They sell their produce at a nearby farmer’s market in Ithaca, New York.
To maintain fertility, the farmers use soybeans, oats, buckwheat, sorghum-sudangrass, and clover as cover crops. They also purchase alfalfa meal, soybean meal, pebble rock phosphate, greensand, and limestone. Compost is produced on the farm for use in potting soil. Mulches are used to reduce the need for weeding.
Bill has a knack for innovation, and has created machines for cultivation and harvesting using components of reclaimed farming equipment and lawnmowers.
The farmers encourage biodiversity on their holding, and provide habitats for birds, snakes, beneficial insects, toads, and frogs, which naturally regulate the competing insects. Other insects are removed from the crops by hand, or deterred by garlic spray which is used as an insect repellent. No animals on the farm are intentionally killed, injured, or exploited.
By growing veganically, the farmers are expressing their ethic to cultivate “in harmony with nature and with respect for all living beings”.
Note: Unexpected Farm is not set up to host apprentices or wwoofers.