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Eradicating Weeds with Natural Farm Stand

About a dozen Upper Midwest CRAFT farmers arrived for a field day at Natural Farm Stand in Richmond, IL, on Sunday, July 12. Natural Farm Stand is owned and operated by Sue and Gary Gauger on the farmland that Gary’s grandfather bought in 1923. Gary had started working on the farm by the time he was six years old, when he used to sell ears of sweet corn at the end of the driveway for five cents a dozen. 

Synthetic pesticides or herbicides have never been used on the farm, and now the Gaugers are growing about fifteen acres of vegetables and ten acres of cover crops in a two-year rotation.


CRAFT attendees were taken on a tour of the farm on a flatbed trailer pulled by an antique International tractor, stopping periodically to learn how Gary has controlled weeds and pests and improved fertility through the use of large amounts of compost, cover crops, and adaptations to simple manual and mechanical tools. 

Gary also showed the group his farm-built propagation greenhouse, where seedlings are started heated by the decomposition of $140 worth of corn screenings from March through May. To accomplish this, Gary first soaks the 4400 lbs. of corn screenings overnight in hot water. He then thoroughly soaks the ground in the greenhouse before spreading a four-inch layer of wet corn screenings, some manure, and some straw. This is then covered with plastic, and the microbial activity warms the beds to 90-95 ℉, allowing seeds to germinate and plants to grow when the landscape is still frozen just on the other side of a few layers of thin plastic. (Written By Bill Ladd-Cawthorne).


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