What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is a way of producing food that's healthy to eat, doesn't harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances local community. There is no "sustainable" label, so eating sustainably means understanding the issues, getting involved with your food, and knowing the people who grow and sell it.
Key Elements of Sustainable Farming
Minimizing use of toxins – Sustainable farmers work with the environment using natural non-polluting methods to control pests and weeds whenever possible. Sustainable farms rely on crop diversity, beneficial insects and pest resistant plants to control destructive insects and other pests, minimizing use of pesticides and choosing those that are used carefully to minimize negative effects on crops and the environment.
At Bedner's we use the safest green technology available. Our fields are inspected by a crop scout for best application and only then are products applied as needed. Twenty years ago Bedner's led the industry by developing a "Veggie Safe" label that certified our produce to be chemical free. We do not use any genetically modified seed.
Soil conservation and environmental stewardship – On a sustainable farm, what is taken out of the soil is replenished, so that land remains healthy and fertile generation after generation. Sustainable farms conserve soil through erosion-prevention methods such as windbreaks, cover crops, and low-impact tillage methods.
A fallow season and cover crop has been a practice by Bedner's for many years. The fields are also naturally flooded to kill diseases and insects in the soil. The soil is sampled every year and tested to determine what is needed to produce a healthy crop. The sugar cane you see in the field is used as a wind block to protect the plants.
Biodiversity – Sustainable farms raise different types of plants and animals, which are rotated around the fields to enrich the soil and help prevent disease and pest outbreaks. When farms are diversified, they are also better protected against natural disasters, because if one crop is damaged another may survive to help make up lost income.
Bedner's grows a wide variety of vegetables on the 80 acres where the Market is located. These crops are rotated every year to achieve best crop production.
Economically viable and socially just – Sustainable farms must also be economically sustainable for farmers who own them. They must be able to earn a fair price for their products and, in turn able to pay their workers a fair wage. Additionally, sustainable farms ensure a safe working environment and, where workers board on a farm, decent living conditions and food. When a farm business is financially sustainable, local businesses and the community as a whole also benefit.
Benefits of sustainable food
The concept of sustainability also involves eating locally raised food, where possible, which decreases the time it sits around before reaching your plate, thereby increasing its nutrient value, since most foods begin losing nutrients as soon as they are harvested. Recently picked produce also retains more of its flavor, and eating food that is raised close to home may lower your carbon footprint, depending how far it is transported before reaching you.
Purchasing sustainable food can also help save independent family farms. This not only supports communities, but helps protect all of us from having our food supply controlled by just a few companies. Small farms also help ensure that our food choices remain diverse and protects us all from monopolization of our food supply.
By eating sustainably, you are also supporting a true American tradition that's part of our cultural heritage – the small, independent family farmer.
The Bedner family has been farming in South Florida since 1950 & with your continued support we will be here for generations to come.
Thank you for supporting your local farmer!