Pariah Dog Farm's BCS Tractor Fund
Hi! We’re Matt and Jeny and we own and operate Pariah Dog Farm, a small organic farm on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We’re passionate about what we do, and we could do it better with a new tractor. If you share our passion for sustainable local produce, and would like to learn more about us and our goals for this campaign, please read on!
Who are we?
We are Matt Churchill and Jeny Christian. Together we own and operate Pariah Dog Farm in Falmouth Massachusetts. We’re a market garden-style farm with a focus on sustainable practices. Our total acreage is 7.88 acres with about four in active production. We are not certified organic, but all of our practices are strictly organic. Matt bought our land in 2012. It was severely abused by the previous owners and required a lot of cleanup. Matt accomplished this while working full-time running his landscaping company. Matt has a certificate in horticulture from Cape Cod Community College and Jeny is a veteran of the Army National Guard 1166th combat HET company. She has an associates degree from Greenfield Community College in Food and Farm Systems, a certificate in Permaculture Design.
At Pariah Dog Farm we view ourselves as pragmatic scavengers. Our goal is to source as many materials as feasibly possible from locally-produced waste streams and convert it into wholesome food for local consumption. Most of the fuel we burn comes from biodiesel produced from waste cooking oil generated by local restaurants. We fertilize primarily with compost derived from local sources. Pariah Dog Farm gets its name from a special "breed" of dog that is found anywhere a waste-producing human society exists. They fill a special niche thriving on the fringes of civilized society sustained by its waste. We here at Pariah Dog Farm see ourselves as filling a similar niche.
What we do at Pariah Dog Farm
Everything grown on the farm is consumed locally. We proudly sell directly to our community via local farmers markets, a weekly farmstand and our CSA. We take our role as stewards of the soil very seriously. We have a long-term rotational field schedule which allows parts of our land to rest for several years at a time.This is important as our yearly crop plan is intensive with some individual beds producing three different harvests each season Most of the work in maintaining the beds is done with either a diesel tractor or a gas-powered commercial rototiller. Much is also done by hand - particularly cultivation and transplanting. All of our beds are non-permanent, meaning that after harvest the bed is roto-tilled. This type of system works, but it has several drawbacks.
What would like to do better with your help
Non-permanent beds and conventional tillage coupled with an intensive rotation inevitably lead to some degree of soil compaction, reduction of fertility, and weed pressure. These problems are caused largely by using a rototiller consistently for the purpose of bed preparation. When over-used this tool creates a hard layer of soil just below the tiller tines known as a hard pan which inhibits root penetration while making nutrients deeper in the soil unavailable to the crop.
There is a method of farming popularized by pioneering market farmer Jean-Martin Fortier (see link below) and others that address the issues associated with rototilling and is well-suited to a small scale intensive operation such as ours. This system replaces non-permanent beds and deep vertical tillage with permanent beds and shallow horizontal tillage. Permanent beds are defined once then maintained with minimal disruption. This is essential for building healthy soil. Shallow tillage is accomplished by disturbing just the top two inches of soil. This type of tillage requires specialized tools such as a power harrow and ideally a lighter tractor with a small footprint.
Another area we would like to improve is in our consumption of gasoline. Our four wheeled tractor is able to burn biofuel, but given our scale it is not practical to use for many important weekly tasks such as bed preparation, mowing, snow removal and tilling smaller plots. For these jobs we rely on an array of smaller gasoline-powered tools that cannot take advantage of the more sustainable fuel we produce ourselves. It would be much more efficient to have a small diesel-powered walk-behind two-wheeled tractor with the appropriate attachments to do the various tasks that are too big to be done by hand, but that our four-wheeled tractor is inappropriate for.
Jean-Martin Fortier explains his philosophies on soil management…
Watch! It’s really cool! The first four minutes are most important.
What we need
The purpose of this campaign is to help us raise money to purchase a light diesel-powered two-wheeled walk-behind tractor and implements, which will help us reduce our use of gasoline and allow us to amend our current soil management practices to become more sustainable. We normally source equipment used, but this type of tractor and these specific implements, are very uncommon making new equipment the only feasible option. Below is the tractor and list of implements your donation would help us purchase. All of the equipment listed below will be purchased from Earth Tools, Inc.
-BCS Model 853 with diesel engine $5400
-26" rototiller $660
-30" power harrow $2200
-32" heavy rotary mower $1300
-28" snow thrower $900
-Shipping cost from Kentucky $580
- Cost of gofundme $960 -8%
How this will help our farm
This machine and implements will help us by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels as well as saving us labor in the field and garage, allowing our farm to become more financially viable. As of now we do all work on the farm ourselves, and rely on volunteers to help with larger projects. Working more efficiently will save us time we could devote to developing other projects such as growing grains for chicken feed, baling straw, planting fruit and nut trees and raising animals for meat. All of which will get us closer to our goal of being a biodynamic “full diet” farm. It will also help us treat our soil better. Reduced tillage will encourage healthier crops better able to resist insect damage and absorb water, which will, in turn, help us become more ecologically sustainable. Earth care, People Care, and Resource Share are the guiding ethics of Permaculture. We work hard to help feed our community without compromising the environment. A resilient local food system only thrives if a community engages with it. One great way to support your food system is to invest in it. Your donation will help us purchase these tools so we may continue to adapt our skills to better suit the needs of our land and community in an effort to make both healthier and more resilient!
Thank you for investing in us, our farm, and your local food system!
Matt, Jeny, and Baby Jack
Eat well my friends