Yoko Takemura “Breaking Ground”

This story appeared in the 2021 spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “Breaking Ground.”

When I first began thinking about what to write for the “breaking ground” theme, I decided to look up what “breaking ground” means. From a quick Google search, the results were: 1. Do preparatory digging or other work prior to building or planting something; 2. Do something innovative and beneficial.

I couldn’t ignore just how appropriate this description was for when we set out to start our own farm four years ago by breaking ground. Although we are a small farm employing no-till methods, we still chose to break the ground initially in order to mix in some minerals and raise the pH. (Oh and to remove the many “New England potatoes”!) This field was only hayed minimally before we arrived so the soil organisms must have had quite a surprise that day when we plowed through their intricately designed homes.

Although soil disturbance was inevitable, we knew this was part of the preparation in order to grow healthy crops that would in turn bring the soil life back to its previous abundance as well as feed the community with nutritious food. In this way, it certainly was beneficial – but innovative? I’m not sure if anything is as innovative as nature itself, but we’d like to think we’re doing our part to make sure our farm is teeming with life, both above and belowground. And maybe that’s just innovative enough for a couple of veggie farmers!

Yoko Takemura

Putnam, Connecticut

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