Ecological Horticulture for Cannabis

CURRENT MOON

There are a number of different platforms that can encompass ecological horticultural practices.  Part of our mission is to promote and integrate these practices into our sustainable and regenerative farming platform. This page will cover these basics on each topic. We will be updating and integrating information through our blog and social media accounts as we progress. 

  • ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
  • BIODYNAMIC AGRICULTURE
  • PERMACULTURE
  • AGROECOLOGY
  • PROBIOTIC FARMING
  • INTEGRATED PLANT MANAGEMENT

 

organic agriculture

The USDA classifies organic agriculture under the following principles:

"Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.

Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives."

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

Currently, because the term "organic" is federally regulated, the USDA does not recognize cannabis as a legitimate agricultural crop and therefore no product can be officially labeled organic.  The goal of the CHA is to promote the organic process for cannabis, and improve the economic and environmental sustainability of organic farms through integrated research, extension and education programs. 

biodynamic AGRICULTURE

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy.” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.

Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability), taking inspiration from Steiner’s insights into social and economic life as well as agriculture. Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by biodynamic farmers, and many biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with other farms and with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.

 

Permaculture

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture",  but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.

It has many branches that include but are not limited to ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.

Gardening is definitely one of the tools of permaculture, and so too is home building, forestry, soil creation, sustainable waste management and so forth. It boils down to those many skill sets and technologies we use to create our living environment. What is often left out of the answer are the “invisible structures” of economics, legal structures, and social behavior. Mollison taught that the visible structures (gardening, building etc.) were those things we needed to do to be regenerative and the invisible structures taught us how to do it. In discovering both the “what” to do and “how” to do it we use the ethics and principles of permaculture to guide us.  My friend Larry Santoyo says that, “permaculture is something we “use” to discover what to “do“.”

Agroecology

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

This particular website in Figure 1. classifies agroecology as such:

"Agroecology is subject to more debate around its definition. The term was first used in 1930 and was referred to as a Science based on the observation of nature. It then evolved to become an agricultural practice and movement.

“It is defined as the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems, it provides a framework to assess the complexity of agroecosystems” (Miguel A. Altieri, 1995)3. At its most narrow definition, Agroecology refers to the study of purely ecological phenomena within the crop field, such as predator/prey relations, or crop/weed competition.”

Today, the question of agricultural production has evolved from a purely technical one to a more complex one characterized by social, cultural, political and economic dimensions. Agroecology has emerged as the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design and manage agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally sensitive, socially just and economically viable." 

Agroecology: Key Concepts, Principles and Practices

probiotic farming

The excerpt below was taken from themodern.farm and is a very helpful go-by in understanding the basics of probiotic farming.

"Probiotic Farming – In the simplest form, it’s a focus on soil dwelling bacterial and fungal homeostasis in the garden. In practice, this usually means an amalgamation of Korean Natural Farming (KNF), traditional organic growing techniques (composting, aerated teas), and either ROLS or No Till depending on how the soil is reused, with a few unique practices, such as anaerobic teas thrown in. Understandably, this can be a bit daunting, but hopefully this site can serve as a bit of a companion in taking in all of these system and consolidating them to what’s needed for you. Why call it probiotic you may ask? Well, you are probably familiar with ‘probiotic‘ bacteria, usually in relation to cultured and/or fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt). When we buy probiotic food, we are buying something with live cultures of beneficial bacteria.  Often, the bacteria that are helpful in our intestines, can catch a happy ride into us by being helpful to the soil and plants as well. With probiotic farming practices, we’re reintroducing beneficial bacteria and fungi into the soil, while using growing methods that promote the proliferation of these soil dwelling colonies, using amendments that help them thrive, and in return, the microlife does most of the hard work."

INTEGRATED PLANT MANAGEMENT (IPM)

Definitions of integrated plant and pest management (IPM) are nearly as numerous as invasive species management programs. Most definitions acknowledge several basic components when developing an IPM plan, including the following:

  • considering available management options
  • understanding the biology and life cycles of target and non-target species
  • evaluating ecosystem sensitivity to invasion by introduced organisms
  • considering the impacts of management on ecosystems
  • reducing invasive species impacts below an economic / ecological threshold
  • allowing flexibility to adapt management techniques to changing conditions
  • developing additional management options

IPM programs must also consider the many shared and often competing uses of areas to be managed. Additionally, conditions change throughout the year and programs designed for one season may be unsuitable for others. Some examples: