Our Methods

At the Benson Place, our farming practices are guided by the desire to grow and provide organic, nutrient-rich tasty food for our community while supporting native pollinators and wildlife and optimizing soil and farm-ecosystems.

Nutrient Density: Highly mineralized plants are more resistant to both insect pests and diseases minimizing the need for harmful pesticides and fungicides. In addition, these mineral and flavor rich foods support the vast array of cellular functions and processes that occur in the bodies of the animals and people that consume them, thereby enhancing our own health and immunity.

We work with crop consultants at Advancing Eco Agriculture, a leading company in the field of nutrient dense farming, to optimize plant photosynthesis. Using plant sap data to gauge plant health and assess excesses and deficiencies, we foliar spray customized mineral blends throughout the season. The sprays stimulate the plant to produce sugars which feed the soil microbiome, enhancing plant mycorrhizal communication, nutrient acquisition, organic matter production and carbon sequestration. The result of all this: delicious, nutritious food, healthy for you and our global ecosystem.

We are happy to have been awarded a SARE farmer research grant for 2021-2022 to learn more about optimal wild blueberry nutrition. Check back: we’ll be sharing our findings as we go.

bumble bee on blueberry flowers

Pollinator Habitat: We farm in partnership with multitude of native bees and other pollinators that inhabit this hillside. We are grateful for the essential role they provide in growing our sustenance. We are dedicated to farming practices that support and do not harm our native pollinators, and we are committed to establishing pollinator plantings designed to provide a diversity of nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. Every year we establish more plantings; our goal is to plant out an area equal to 10% of the area of our cropland in pollinator plants. If you are interested in the Benson Place pollinator project and would like to support our efforts with a donation or with your time, please contact us.

Wildlife Habitat: Bears, birds, porcupines, coyote, fox and deer and other wildlife have been coming to this hillside to feast on wild blueberries for many years. Bears teach their cubs how to travel here each June from various locations around Franklin County. The bears meet up on the hill for the mating season and stay through the end of the harvest in mid-August.

canada lily at the benson place

As stewards of this land, we cultivate the berries for the enjoyment and sustenance of both people and critters. Approximately ten percent of the area we manage in the blueberry fields is designated for wildlife use and is not harvested by us. In addition, we do not use bear cannons, bird streamers or other tactics designed to scare the animals.

Integrated Permaculture Systems: Permaculture principles inspire our overall farm design which results in an interdependent farm ecology.

  • Elements in the system serve multiple functions: For example, plants in the chick food forest provide chick forage, nutrient-mining for fruit tree over-story crops, pollen and nectar for pollinators and medicine and edibles for people.
  • Bi-products of one process serve as inputs for other processes. Whey, a bi-product of making goat cheese, is used to ferment the grain we feed to the chickens, improving digestibility of the grain and providing additional protein and minerals.
  • We prioritize perennials over annuals: Perennial systems can minimize soil disturbance and fossil fuel use and release of carbon dioxide associated with tillage and have an increased potential to sequester carbon. Over 95% of the crops and pollinator plants we cultivate are perennials.
  • Provide on-site fertility and nutrient cycling: Dynamic accumulators such as comfrey and docks mine the subsoil for minerals which they deposit on the surface providing nutrition for over-story crops. Chickens and goats will eat the high-protein comfrey growing underneath the trees in our budding chestnut and elderberry silvopasture, depositing their manure which fertilizes the trees, stimulates nutrient and carbon cycling and reduces the dependence on store-bought feed.
praying mantis and blueberry box
Photo by Ezra Christi
scythe in burnt fields
bear eating lowbush berries at the benson place