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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Natural Farming

16-March-2019
  On Thursday-14-March the Bogota Public library hosted a workshop on how to  build and prepare a personal garden. This was presented by Anthony Bracco of Bracco Farms in New York.  He was joined by his wife Christa and son Anthony Jr,  who also works the farm, to talk about their experiences in small farming. Mr. Bracco practices what he calls small batch, naturally grown, sustainable family farm. While not officially a fully organic farm, he goes with a Safe-Seed-Pledge using non-GMO seeds, organic fertilizers, and other natural practices. Bracco Farms also uses  natural sustainable farming techniques along with hand-cultivation of weeds without the use of any non organic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, or chemicals.  
  Mr. Bracco talked about the garden he created  for his personal use using natural growing methods, and expanded those techniques to a larger scale after purchasing a his own farm in 2010.  For a small personal garden he suggests making a raise planting bed in order to start with fresh soil to maximize the plants yield. A typical size would 4 feet by 8 feet made from  2 x 10 lumber as a frame.  The lumber should not those treated with chemical weather proofing.  But should be coated with a mixture of  3 parts odorless mineral strips and 1 part boiled  linseed oil. The frame should be place 2 inches below surface which will allow for the frame to be secured into the earth, and hinder most burrowing animals from digging into the plot.  A mixture of top soil, compost peat moss, and organic fertilizers should fill the bed to within 1 inch of the top.  Mr. Bracco suggests to start a compost pile/bin and constantly add mature compost to the garden. Then at  the beginning of the season adding cow manure, peat moss and some high quality organic topsoil to each bed. Along with adding a little natural fertilizer at the beginning helps as well. Any seeds to be planted should be certified Non- GMO. Then the seed from any crop can be harvested and use in following seasons. 
   Mr. Bracco then talked about how some of the practices from his farm  that can be use for a home garden. One practice that is used is laying down a plastic mulch sheet to help control weeds.  These sheets are made from an inert plastic, or biodegradable material,  that will not leach chemicals into the soil. He also said that putting down a bed of straw between the rows of plants will also control weeds. And basic hoeing and weeding will work as well.   To control insects, or other pest he recommends a PyGanic Organic Spray 1.4%. which is widely available and works on many types of insects. This is an organic pesticide which can be used through the growing season, even at harvesting time.  For small garden ladybugs can be used to control a limited amount of insects.
  Another way to control insects is to rotate where crops are planted. If using multi planting beds move the crops into different beds each season. This will confused the bugs from attacking the same plant each year. 
  Mr. Bracco showed a number of the tools he uses in his fields, which can be used in a personal garden. Some tools are used for soil maintenance, while other for planting.
   In the years of work his farm Anthony Bracco has started working with local restaurants to supply their kitchens with fresh produce. One of his local customer is Luka’s Italian Cuisine located at 10 River Rd in Bogota. Luka’s mainly uses Zucchini Blossoms and heirloom tomatoes from Bracco Farms on their menu. Bracco Farms also  run a Farm Stand located just  off of Pine Island Turnpike Pine Island, NY. This is open usually from May to October selling produce grown in the field  right behind the structure. They are open only on Saturdays from 11:00a to 4:00p with crops harvested from a few days before, or that same day.  
  Towards the end of his presentation Mr. Bracco was asked about how a customer can find out is the produce being purchased at a Farms Market, or other store is organic. He said the best way is to ask.  A good organic  farmer will be proud to let you  what they use, or do not use at their farm. Another way is to look at the boxes the food is shipped it. 
  For more information for Bracco Farms please visit their web-site at www.braccofarms.com


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