Brandon O'Halloran, a career music teacher, and his wife Mariah were not content watching their family scurry in different directions in the morning, only to reconvene for a hurried dinner and exhaustive bedtime routine. Spending more time together was the motivating factor behind starting a farming operation.
Farming has been a part of their family as far back as they can remember, so once they got their own 100 acre plot of land they were more than excited to get their hands dirty. For a few years the O'Hallorans farmed using some organic methods looking for a way to farm with minimal chemical inputs. The transition to certified organic happened around 10 years ago after their kindergartner attended a Farm Safety Class for kids. Their son wanted to know why they have to put on protective gear to spray the food that will be going in their mouths. Was the food safe if it got touched by the same chemicals that couldn't touch his skin? This young man's innocent questions became the catalyst for becoming certified organic growers.
Brandon is quite aware that organic farming has its own sustainability challenges. Tillage is one of the top concerns because it releases a good amount of coveted carbon and disturbs the microbiology of the soil. For this reason, he runs a low till operation. 35+ years of soil degradation on his land left him with less than 6 inches of topsoil to work with in some areas. He began a 2 years rest and 1 year harvest rotation with the idea that they want to give more than they are taking from any piece of their farmed land. "We are starting to see the results of minimal tillage," he says a decade into his organic low till farming model. "Its successful but only long term," he speaks of this model. Where chemical agriculture will look to fix a symptom, Brandon is looking at the 5,10 and 15 year solutions.
What foresight! Thank you Brandon and Mariah for all you do!