1300 ft. Elevation in the Sierra Mountains…
The farm produces nearly 200 varieties of peaches, apples, pears and cherries all selectively chosen for their ability to produce excellent fruit in this Mediterranean climate. Additionally, the farm grows an abundance of figs, persimmons, kiwis, blueberries and citrus.
Woodleaf farm has been certified organic for over 30 years. The farm is 26 acres of native oak/pine forest. There are 8 acres of mixed fruit and vegetable production for farmers’ market sales.
Soil tests, taken yearly for 30 years, track the rising soil fertility, with organic matter levels climbing from lows of 2 – 3% in the 1980s to 4 – 6% in the 2000s. Soil nutrient balancing and reduced tillage is the major focus at Woodleaf farm. Carl believes that fertile soil is a mixture of well-balanced minerals, high organic matter, good aeration and bountiful soil life. “It is crucial to leave the soil as undisturbed as possible. Tending soil for optimum production means adding minerals and compost every year. Compost made from branches, leaves and plant residues without manures are best for orchards since this best supports fungal growth. Too much compost in the soil is hard for the soil to break down quickly and will temporarily tie up nutrients”. Hence Carl applies yard waste compost 2 to 4 times a year at 2 tons per acre. Carl monitors and bases his amendment inputs on macronutrient, base saturation, and micronutrient balance.
Insect and disease damage has decreased over the past 30 years and Carl attributes this to his nutrient balancing program, ground cover/living mulch management, reduced tillage, and careful attention to field hygiene and fruit tree shape.
Woodleaf also practices farmscaping: Carl believes that planting beneficial insect habitat and letting the perennial ground cover/living mulch go to flower has been helpful in keeping insect damage in check over time.
Woodleaf Farm has a vegetable crop – fruit tree rotation, with vegetable crops usually rotated into areas where fruit trees are removed for 1 to two years. The farm also uses gravity flow irrigation, 100% solar power, low energy use buildings, and cats for gopher control. In 1992, when the Organic Farming Research Foundation launched its first round of competitive grants, Woodleaf farm was awarded a grant to begin studying brown rot control. Since then, the farm has continued to study organic soil management and experiment with nutrient and pest management interactions. In February 2012, Woodleaf farm was recognized with a Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award, at the 32nd Annual EcoFarm Conference.