Caring for the soil is at the heart of our regenerative farming philosophy with healthy soil serving as the foundation for healthy crops, healthy people, and a healthy planet. We give our soil plenty of time and attention by building it up through cover crops, treating it like its own treasured crop, and leaving it better than how we found it.
Today, though, we’ll look at soil from a different angle. We’ll explore the different types of soil that exist—including the lake bottom sandy loam soil that we benefit from at The Chef’s Garden. This is a great soil for crops because it’s fertile and drains well—and because it encourages growth as water and air are easily accessible by plant roots.
Now, here’s more information about the different types of soil.
“All soil,” Bob Jones, Jr. says, “consists of sand, silt, loam, and clay. Sandy soils are the most common, and they contain a majority of sand while others are sandy loams that have a little silt and very little clay. Clay soils, just as you would think, are predominantly clay.”
As farmers, we need to consider the makeup of our soil and make agricultural decisions based on that. “Sandy soils like ours,” Bob shares, “tend to dry earlier in the spring—and warm up earlier, too. It dries out more quickly, as well. We then base our cover crop program on those characteristics, one that’s specifically designed to add more humic substances to our sandy loam soil.”
Humic substances are compounds of decaying organic matter that enhance soil fertility. Adding these substances increases both the moisture-holding capacity of the soil and its cation exchange capacity (CEC).
“What that means,” Bob says, “is simply that we can now hold and exchange more minerals in the soil and support more biological life in those same soils.”
The Perspective of Farmer Lee Jones
“We’re blessed with the richest lake bottom loamy soil possible,” Farmer Lee says, “which gives us the ability to grow just about anything.”
What, though, is meant by “lake bottom” soil? Well, during the last Ice Age, glaciers covered much of the land, including where The Chef’s Garden exists today. The glaciers scraped the land, creating large depressions in the ground. When the ice melted, these basins filled with water, forming lakes—including Lake Erie, which is in the same region as our farm.
The glaciers also left behind plenty of sediment, including the sand and silt that’s in our incredibly rich soil. Then, as Lake Erie receded, about 13,000 years ago, this sediment remained in the soil that was once part of the lake and created loamy land with great drainage ability.
“European settlers,” Farmer Lee says, “recognized the value of this land. In fact, at one time, it’s said that about three hundred and thirty vegetable growers had small plots of land in our area, which would have been the largest concentration of veggie farmers, people who were true artisan growers, in the world.”
Farmer Lee likes to compare farming to maintaining a relationship. In this analogy, The Chef’s Garden is extremely fortunate to have such rich land. “Having said that,” he adds, “we must continually maintain and improve this relationship through sustainable and regenerative farming.”
By relying on organic, not synthetic, fertilizing methods, we’re not only caring for the land. Because of fertilizer run-off, we’re also caring for the water by not adding harmful substances to our rivers and lakes—which brings us full circle since glaciers and Lake Erie played such a crucial role in creating the soil that we’re so blessed to farm.
“In short,” Farmer Lee says, “making decisions that are good for our water and land is what we mean by working in harmony with Mother Nature rather than trying to outsmart her. At The Chef’s Garden, we focus on slowly and gently farming in full accord with nature.”
The fresh vegetables, herbs, microgreens, and edible flowers that we regeneratively farm in our sandy loam soil are delicious and nutritious, shipped directly to you. We invite you to browse our site to find what’s in-season and available to you.