The No-Till Organic Vegetable Farm by Daniel Mays

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No-till -- a method of growing crops and providing pasture without disturbing the soil -- has become an important alternative to standard farming practices. In this comprehensive guide to successful no-till vegetable farming for aspiring and beginning farmers, author Daniel Mays, owner and manager of an organic no-till farm in Maine, outlines the environmental, social, and economic benefits of this system. The methods described are designed for implementation at the human scale, relying primarily on human power, with minimal use of machinery. The book presents streamlined planning and record-keeping tools as well as marketing strategies, and outlines community engagement programs like CSA, food justice initiatives, and on-farm education.

 "An exceptional book." -- Eliot Coleman, farmer and author of The New Organic Grower and Four Season Harvest


"A great treatise on the importance of a holistic approach to agriculture and a must-read for any serious market grower." -- Jean-Martin Fortier, farmer and author of The Market Gardener


"Daniel Mays has hit the ball out of the park. Home gardeners and market gardeners alike will learn much about honoring soil life while growing the best vegetables possible." -- Michael Phillips, farmer and author of The Holistic Orchard


"If you want to farm for a living, I highly recommend reading this book. It is one of the best guides for serious growers that I know of." -- Ben Hartman, farmer and author of The Lean Farm and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables


"Farmer Mays draws from nearly a decade's worth of experience running his five-acre Frith Farm in Maine for this useful primer on 'intensive no-till vegetable production'... Straightforward and encouraging, Mays's insightful and detailed account is a one-stop source for small farmers looking for both inspiration and practical advice."
-- Publisher's Weekly

Table of Contents:
Preface: From the Ground Up
1: Farming at a Human Scale
Nature as Model
Beyond Sustainability
Rethinking Tillage
Farming Values
2: Ecological Agriculture
Science and Soil Health
Succession and Disturbance
Soil Creation and the Soil-Plant Food Web
Nature's Principles of Soil Care
3: Getting Started
Taking the Leap
Start-Up Costs
Acquiring Capital
The Land Search
Farm Design-Build
4: Establishing Beds
Permanent Raised Beds
Field Layout
Jump-starting Soil Health
Breaking Ground with and without Tilling
5: Planting
Crop Planning
The Seedling Greenhouse
Direct Seeding
6: Irrigation
Water Resilience
Irrigation Design
Installation and Maintenance
7: Weeds
Treating Symptoms vs. Causes (Killing vs. Preventing)
Zero Seed Rain
Methods of Manual Weeding
8: Methods of No-Till Disturbance
Flipping Beds
Compost as Mulch
Mowing and Crimping
Occultation and Solarization
Breaking Up Compaction
A Plantable Surface
9: Natural Soil Care in Action
Principles of Soil Care
Cover Cropping
Hedgerows and Other Beneficial Plantings
Integrating Livestock
Fertilizer and Fertility
Pests and Disease (Symptoms of a Lack of Life)
10: Harvest and Handling
Workflow and Efficiency
Harvest Implements
Wash Infrastructure
Presentation and Delivery
11: Markets and Scale
Location, Location
Food with Context
The Local Market Trifecta
Spreading the Word
Market-Based Growth
12: Labor
Labor as Asset, Not Input
The Right Work Environment
Labor Models
Attracting and Retaining Employees
The Hiring Process
Task Times
13: Planning and Recordkeeping
The Whole-Farm Organism
Recordkeeping Strategies
Collaborative Spreadsheets
Production Records
14: Measures of Success: Profit, People, and Place
Agriculture-Supported Community
Spaceship Earth
Quality of Life
Metric Conversion Chart

Daniel Mays is the author of The No-Till Organic Vegetable Farm and the owner of Frith Farm, a no-till operation in southern Maine that produces food for hundreds of local families from three acres of vegetables and five acres of pasture. With a master's degree in environmental engineering, Mays has studied dozens of small organic farm operations throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at farm events, including the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust, and the Maine State Agricultural Trade Show. He lives in Scarborough, Maine.

Storey Publishing 

Pub Date: November 10, 2020

0.6" H x 10.0" L x 8.0" W

240 pages