What is a Diversified Farm?
Diversification on family farms is not a new idea. For generations, and oftentimes brought on by hardship, farmers have expanded their operations to include novel crops, livestock, or on-farm side hustles to help improve the economic outlook of their agricultural business. By broadening the number of revenue sources, diversification improved the livelihood of the family operating the farm.
A modern definition of diversified farming emphasizes sustainable agricultural production as part of the greater ecological surroundings of the farm, but the reasons for diversification remain largely the same- seeking economical opportunities through a variety of crops, livestock, and value-added products.
There are many examples of diversified farming systems. A current example on our
small farm is when we grant garden access to the chickens at the end of the season. This action seems simple enough, but it reduces labor on our part, lowers feed costs, improves soil health, and decreases pest pressure while increasing egg quality.
A new crop we have plans to introduce to our farm this year is cultivated mushrooms grown under the forest canopy. Mushrooms add to the selection of marketable crops while improving and utilizing an underused portion of our land without having a negative impact on another cash crop, the trees themselves.
The list of ideas goes on and they share a common goal: growing a diverse range of locally grown agricultural products to meet the local demand for wholesome food.