Mizuna Gardens was sustainable before sustainability became a buzzword due to our deep respect for the land and as a matter of financial survival. There's environmental sustainability and economic sustainability in farming. In other words, we care deeply about the environment so we take care of the soil. We also want to stay in business so we take care of the soil.
- We do not use any manures or raw animal products for fertilizing crops.
- Our growing fields are well-fenced to keep deer and other animals out.
- We’ve never used any chemicals on our growing beds whether synthetic fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides or fungicides. Even though we aren't certified organic, we follow the same principles. We only use OMRI listed products: potting soil, fertilizers, and the rare use of pest or fungus control products. Most of our seeds are certified organic as well. Weeding is done by hand with wheel hoes, stirrup hoes, Japanese hand weeders, and the Pyroweeder. With salad farming, crops are turned over quickly so serious problems rarely arise. We’re also constantly rotating crops which prevents insect populations from building up.
- Only potable well water and public water are used to irrigate and wash crops. Mizuna Gardens is irrigated with water from our local water utility: Warren Water Association. We also use this water for all washing of produce.
- Harvest containers, wash tubs and packing surfaces are cleaned regularly with either simple bleach or SaniDate, a food-grade disinfectant.
- All employees are instructed in food safety, general farm safety, and first aid.
- We have a written food safety program that all employees are required to read and adhere to. Please ask if you’d like a copy emailed to you.
LAND & WATER STEWARDSHIP
- Salad greens require more irrigation than many other crops however we try to minimize our water use as much as possible. As stated above, all water comes from our local Warren Water Association and a well; none is pumped from surface water sources. Our market garden is so small that overall, our water usage is minimal.
- Because we’re small and do our work with hand tools, we’re able to plant in beds rather than rows. We plant on 4-6” centers which allows the plants to create a leaf canopy. This shields the soil, reducing water evaporation and erosion from wind.
- We grow varieties of greens that thrive in each season. Our salad mix changes accordingly to become a truly seasonal mix. Going with the flow, in this case weather conditions, rather than against it reduces overall use of resources.
- We’re constantly building top soil with our generous additions of organic material, from roots and leaves left to decompose, to the addition of compost each season. Each year we send soil samples off to be analyzed at a lab. The results for organic matter always come back as VERY HIGH.
- Our land parcels are small however we still maintain wildlife habitat. Our roperty boast mature trees and shrubs, evergreen and deciduous. Among these mature trees are numerous fruit and nut trees which feed many squirrels and birds! Being on the Scappoose Bay Watershed and near the Sauvie Island Wildlife Refuge, we’re fortunate to be able to experience abundant local wildlife: deer (OUTSIDE our fences), coyote, and many birds. We’ve counted over 50 bird species seen right on our property including eagles, hawks, herons, egrets, quail and pheasant. They love our tall trees and hiding areas. We diligently maintain bird houses, bat houses and hummingbird feeders for several Anna’s hummingbirds who choose to winter over each year. We’re also fortunate to have a large population of Pacific Chorus Frogs. Since frogs are extremely sensitive to chemicals, we feel they're a good sign that we’re cultivating a healthy ecosystem!
- We pay our employees fair wages - always above minimum wage - for their hard work. We’ve never used interns or volunteers as we strongly feel that our employees should be compensated for their work.
- We donate excess crops to both our local food bank and the Oregon Food Bank whenever possible.