The Deep Bed Farming Society: Breaking New Ground

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PHOTO: THE DEEP BED FARMING SOCIETY
And how does DBFS hope to achieve these goals? Quite simply, by developing ways to make small-scale, organic farming not just solvent, but lucrative.

The pioneering work of a dedicated group of
biodynamic/French-intensive horticulturists promises to
help improve the productivity and wealth of family farming everywhere.

The Deep Bed Farming Society Supports Family Farming

Thomas Jefferson, bless his idealistic soul, is probably
churning in his grave over the present plight of family
farming in America. It was Jefferson’s dream, you know,
that America become a country of independent
“freeholders” — self-supporting, landowning folk like
family farmers. Well, we almost made it, way back before
the industrial revolution and the advent of modern
agricultural machinery, chemical fertilizers, and
large-scale corporate farming.

Many, if not most, Americans — and certainly we here at THE
MOTHER EARTH NEWS — would like nothing better than to
see the 20th century trend toward large-scale, absentee-owned
farms reversed; we’d like to see the independent,
owner-operator farmers of America (who, by and large, make
far better stewards of the land than do faceless
corporations) come once again to the fore.

But before that can happen — before better can win out over
bigger — America’s small-scale farmers are going to
have to learn to do more with less . . . specifically, to
grow more and better crops on less land, using less (and
less expensive) equipment to do it.

Well, out on the semiarid plains of eastern Colorado, a
small group of dedicated horticulturists is working to do
just that produce more food on less land, employing more
human labor and less nonorganic fertilizers and high-dollar
equipment. The group calls itself the Deep Bed Farming
Society (DBFS), and its plan is to adapt the phenomenally
efficient techniques of biodynamic/French-intensive
gardening to the larger-scale needs of independent
farmers — especially the grain and legume growers of
the Midwest.

According to DBFS president Steve White-hill, the group’s
three specific goals are:

[1] To promote, encourage, and
support small, family-run farming operations.

[2] To
protect the ecological integrity of rural areas.

[3] To
help assure that worldwide there would be sufficient
quantities of locally produced food.

And how does DBFS hope to achieve these goals? Quite
simply, by developing ways to make small-scale, organic
farming not just solvent, but lucrative. This, they
hope — through the workings of supply and
demand — will draw more people (and the right sort of
people) back onto America’s farmlands as owner-operators
(Jeffersonian freeholders).

To date, DBFS members have conducted extensive comparative
studies using test plots consisting of experimental
biodynamic deep beds planted alongside conventional rows of
corn, soybeans, and milo. The results indicate that DBFS is
onto something good, with peracre deep-bed yields doubling
and occasionally even quadrupling those of the neighboring
conventional rows.

We’ll try to keep you posted on the organization’s progress
(they’ll soon be setting up a working model of an organic
deep-bed farm somewhere in the Midwest). But for now, if
you’d like to get more information on this group of doers,
write to the Deep Bed Farming Society, Las
Animas, CO. (As a nonprofit organization, DBFS
depends on contributions and member support to survive, and
welcomes queries from prospective members or donors.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: For a report on another “organic
alternative” designed to alleviate the crisis facing
America’s family farmers, see the Plowboy
Interview on page 16 of this issue.