HOW WE GROW
HOW WE GROW AT TOM’s FARM MARKET
Since TOM’s Farm was established in 1959, we have always striven to produce the best locally grown produce and flowers being environmentally responsible. As a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Plant and Soil Science, TOM has been able to use that knowledge in choosing the best methods for growing and protecting our crops, our customers and the environment.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT:
We have practiced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods for more than 25 years. The goal of IPM is not to eliminate all pests, but to prevent pest populations from reaching damaging levels.
- Inspection and monitoring are the pillar of an IPM program, where the goal is to detect and correct conditions that can lead to pest problems before they occur. We inspect our fields weekly for pests and diseases, using inset traps to monitor the flight of harmful pests.
- Spraying is only done when a pest or disease reaches a level that could seriously harm the crop.
- Additionally, we use Michigan State University and Purdue University weather monitoring systems for climate conditions that are conducive to the spread of vegetative diseases.
SOIL & TISSUE HEALTH
- Other ways we monitor the health of our crops is through annual soil and tissue analyses. Fertilizers and nutrients are created specifically for each crop based on these yearly analyses.
- Cover crops, such as winter rye, are planted once a field has been harvested. By using cover crops, organic matter is added back into the field to maintain healthy soils and prevent erosion.
- Also, our strawberry, corn, pumpkin and other vegetable fields are moved around from season to season. Crop rotation is an effective way to keep our soils healthier in order to produce better crops and reduce the chances of plant problems.
“ARE YOU ORGANIC?” “DO YOU SPRAY?”
- We get asked these questions frequently. It is extremely difficult to grow saleable produce in Illinois organically due to the pest and moisture pressures. While we follow many organic practices, such as biological pest management, crop rotation and soil management, we believe that in following IPM practices, we can make educated decisions on pest and disease control using the safest methods possible to successfully produce our crops.
- Farmers following either IPM methods or organic methods need to spray to control pests and disease. ‘Organic’ does not mean ‘pesticide-free’. In many instances, organic farmers need to spray their crops more frequently to protect them from the pests and disease. Organic methods dictate that pesticides used must come from natural sources, which we use here at TOM’s. IPM methods include organic based products and synthetic products.
All of these practices are more expensive and more labor intensive to maintain, but at TOM’s Farm Market we want to ensure we keep our primary objective – which is to raise the highest quality produce and flowers in the most environmentally friendly way for our customer, ourselves and our environment.