Seven Oaks Farm is an acre Certified Naturally Grown produce farm in Sunshine, North Carolina operated by Karl Brandstaetter and Erica Fernbach. The pair met at a local farmer's market while working on neighboring farms before teaming up on their own project. Seven Oaks uses low-till, no spray farming techniques that result in healthy soil and beautiful harvests.
The farm brings produce to market all year long by growing outdoors during western North Carolina's traditional growing season in mounded raised beds and using hoop houses to protect crops during the winter. Seven Oaks has quickly become the go-to booth at the Rutherford County Farmers Market for produce grown with organic practices.
Growing Certified Naturally Grown Produce
As a CNG farm, Seven Oaks Farm doesn't use synthetic fertilizers, so they look elsewhere to fulfill their plants' nutrient needs. They use various methods to build nutrient-rich and microbe-rich soil: cover cropping, organic fertilization, and fertigation.
When cover cropping, the co-farmers grow crops like buckwheat and ryegrass that are chopped and dropped before going to seed. The crop is terminated using a flail mower which mulches the cover crop into material that can be quickly made bio-available by earthworms and microbes.
Additionally, Seven Oaks Farm applies a mix of amendments to their beds based on soil tests. Before planting, the farmers also add organic NPK consistent with the needs of the particular crop.
How Does Seven Oaks Use Worm Castings?
Seven Oaks farm uses Greenhill Worm Farm castings in two ways. The first is to improve their greenhouse soil mixes (seed starting & potting) using a ratio of 1 part worm castings to 4 parts soil.
The co-farmers started adding Greenhill Worm Farm castings to their soil mix at the beginning of the 2022 season and noticed that their starts are stronger and healthier than last year.
Secondly, they create a "fertigation" mixture that contains a worm casting extract. Seven Oaks fertigation recipe contains hydrolyzed fish, worm casting extract, soluble kelp, local organic grass-fed milk, EM-1, and Sea Crop.
To create the worm casting extract, they add a cup of worm castings to a 1-gallon paint strainer bag. Then, the paint strainer bag is submerged in 2 gallons of water, dipped and squeezed five times, and left to soak for another 10 minutes. The fertigation mixture is applied to their long-season crops (peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, eggplant, brassicas, etc.) every week or bi-weekly, depending on conditions, using a liquid fertilizer injector that ties into their drip irrigation system. Karl and Erica said their long-season crops always perk up after getting their dose of worm casting extract.
For more information about creating compost tea for your organic farm or garden, or to order worm castings, email info@GreenhillWormFarm.com.