No animals yet, but we’re working on it!

Sweet Bay Farm is a small, 24-acre farm located in gorgeous St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland.  Once a parcel of a large farm, it was row-cropped in tobacco for centuries and in soybeans most recently.  As the new owners, we are focused on rebuilding the depleted soil so it can support fertile grasses, healthy animals, and a vibrant grass-fed farm business.  In the long-term, we’re aiming to produce juicy gourmet-quality steaks on grass alone.   

What We Value:  Taste and Health

We love to eat!  When we started eating all fresh foods from nearby farms, we couldn’t believe what we’d been missing for so long!  The food tasted so much better, and our health and vitality improved very quickly.

That’s where it’s at for us – taste and health.  We believe the two are intertwined and rooted in the soil.  Just like wine producers speak of “terroir,” the taste of the land, we know that healthy, mineral-rich, fertile soil creates tastiness and nutrition. 

Problem:  Very Crappy Soil.  

Problem is, starved soil produces some pretty bitter terroir!  How do we make it better?

Being so close to the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, our farm’s soil was probably naturally very sandy.  It couldn’t hold on to nutrients and moisture as easily as nice clay loamy soils, but it probably had decent organic matter to make up for sandy soil’s shortcomings.   But after centuries of hard tobacco farming, in 2008, we were looking at totally starved, dusty, crusty soil.

Remedy:  No-Till Cover Crops

The housing bust crushed us pretty hard, so we’re still working our full time jobs in DC.  So instead of getting animals right away, we’re improving the soil via cover crops.  We plant diverse mixes of cover crops using a rented no-till drill, grow the plants tall, then mow-kill them before they make seed.  Then we immediately plant another no-till, diverse cover crop into the soil.  Repeat, repeat.  Our fields are chock-full of beautiful, green plants 12 months out of the year.

Results have been very good!  Our soil’s organic matter has risen from low 1% in 2008 to 3% in 2013.  Our soil also seems to be functioning much better.  One indication is our sorghum sudangrass (an infamous nitrogen hog) cover crop.  We don’t spread any nitrogen fertilizer, but it grows lush, huge and deep-green in color.  This makes us happy.

Sooooo…. we’re hoping all the cover crops are priming our soil to grow fantastic, high energy pasture grass in the future.  And hopefully our future pastures will produce some excellently tasty gourmet grass-fed steaks.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing how soil repairs itself, this blog’s for you!

Healthy sorghum in cover crop cocktail.

Healthy sorghum in cover crop cocktail mix.  July 2012.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brad on June 18, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Hey guys. Great blog and really inspiring to witness your ‘awakening’ to the deadly truths of modern agriculture and follow your commitment to regeneration of the land. With your realisation of the importance of polycultures and diversity, sounds like you’re basically doing permaculture; which is awesome as it the only way to go! Are you familiar with permaculture? I implore you do a permaculture design course if you haven’t already. All the answers are there. Keep up the great work!


    • Hello Brad, thanks for the compliments! Yes, I suppose we’re basically doing permaculture, although we probably love annuals much more than most permies do. We’ve found that cover crops consisting of annuals (no-till and no herbicides) have sped up biological time and really helped our burned out soil improve rapidly. Our perennial pasture grasses, not so much. Maybe I have a misconception of permaculture. We have Bill Mollison’s design book, but i have a very hard time getting into it. I will check out a design course. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: