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Video: Costco Sustainability Earthbound Farms Field Tour

Costco Sustainability Earthbound Farms Field Tour - Video Gallery
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Costco Sustainability Earthbound Farms Field Tour

Length: 7:07 Added: Nov-7 Views: 77

Costco Sustainability Earthbound Farms Field Tour

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Costco Sustainability Earthbound Farms Field Tour

[MUSIC PLAYING] [BIRDS CHIRPING] My name is Chris Glynn. I'm Director of Supply and Management for Earthbound Farm. And my primary responsibility is to make sure we have the supply to meet sales' needs. So I'm in charge of making sure we have growers and the land base to support that. To classify an organic farm, it is farming without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. You have to farm it for three years in an organic fashion. When you're conventionally growing and you have these tools in your toolbox like the synthetic fertilizers and things like that, it's much easier to get a crop to grow. With organics, we don't have that. We use different kinds of fertilizers that are really slow releasing. So we have to plan well ahead to make sure that we can develop the kind of crops you see behind me. We have to make sure we have a very strong soil. I mean, that's our biggest goal. If we can get a strong soil built right off the get-go, then we can grow any kind of crop that they do conventionally. With a strong, healthy soil, it's one that drains real well, not hard and compact. It's got a lot of life in it. It would have a lot of microorganisms working in it, things like that. We use a lot of cover crops during the wintertime when we're not growing our primary crops. So we'll grow different kinds of grasses and legumes, and then we'll disc it in or turn it under, mulch it all up back into the soil come the springtime, and then that starts to release throughout the year, giving us some nitrogen and things like that in the soil. The spring mix is very conducive to being grown organically. It doesn't have to be out there a long time. We can cut it fairly short in its life. During the middle of the summer here in the Salinas Valley, we're looking for lettuces to grow in about 24 days. We plant the spring mix on 80-inch beds, and that's a measurement from the middle of the furrow to the middle of the other furrow. We plant it that way because of our harvesters. You see the big bandsaw blades that come through and cut prior to that, they were all hand-harvested. The harvesting of romaine hearts is an intense process, because it is self-contained. It's harvested, packaged, put on the trailer, and ready for shipment right to your store. What we do with the excess is we use it as organic matter for our fields still. We'll keep working that in. It'll stay right where it is. It'll start to deteriorate on the top of the bed. And then as the crew is done harvesting that field, then we run our tractors through and we mix it back into the soil and give our soils some more organic matter, naturally. We control the insects by either planting beneficial habitats or trap crops. Beneficial habitats is usually a blend of flowers, and we plant them along the borders of our fields and sometimes inside our fields. So we'll end up having to utilize some of the ground that should be growing crops to grow these beneficial habitats. If we can start that early enough, then we have built up enough ladybugs and syrphid flies and lacewing. Their primary food source will be aphids, so they'll go after those, and they'll help clean up our fields. The other thing we can use is a trap crop, which is a different kind of vegetable or plant that may be more attractive to pests or insects that we don't want in our fields. With weeds, we do a couple of different things. If it's a new piece of ground for us, meaning we haven't farmed it before, we like to plant a lot of row crops, which are like our broccolis, our cauliflowers, celery, our full-sized lettuces like iceberg and romaine. And they're planted so that we can be able to get tractors in and through them. And they have a tool on the back of them that will mechanically weed. So we can really clean up a lot of weeds. They'll grow, but we'll just keep knocking them down with these tractors. The other thing we would do is minimally till. Once we've harvested and we're going to work that crop back into the ground, we just do it enough to turn that crop under, but we don't want to go real deep and bring up any extra weeds seed or old weed seed up. Now occasionally, we have the few weeds that come up here and there, so we'll bring in a crew, and they'll just be able to go through when the plants are very young and small and pluck out those weeds by hand. The other thing they'll do is if you watch them, they'll put those weeds into a bag and take them completely out of the field. The crop rotation is very important because of soil-borne diseases that will start to build up in the soil if you were to plant the same crop right after each other. It's important in organic farms because in conventional, there's soil fumigants that they can spray on the soil. Organically, we don't have that option, so what we like to do is we need to rotate. We do a cold crop, which is your broccolis or your cauliflowers, and then we can plant a romaine crop. Naturally, broccoli and cauliflower, as we work them into the soil and they start to deteriorate, they really smell. But actually, that's fumigating the soil naturally. So we've got to continuously rotate, or we start to build up different diseases in our soils that we don't want. I'm Michael Brautovich, and I'm Senior Manager in our Quality Food Safety and Organic Integrity Department, and my focus is on good agricultural practices, implementation, and compliance with our farms. Just like we routinely monitor for insects and plant diseases, we also routinely monitor for food safety risks on the farm. We look for wildlife activity, fecal material, and trash and debris that may be around the farm. We do this in our pre-harvest and daily harvest assessments. All the inputs we use on our farms, such as fertilizer and water, are tested regularly for pathogens of public health concern, such as E. coli and salmonella. For irrigation water that's used on the farm, we look at the type of source and the distribution method being used to determine whether we will test the water weekly or monthly. We also have good agricultural practices trainings for our farm workers, which includes the importance of hand washing, knowing what a well-stocked restroom is, and using designated areas for meals and rest periods. [MUSIC PLAYING]