TABULA RASA FARMS
“Tabula Rasa” simply means clean slate. This farm signifies a clean slate for me personally (you can read about my story here), but there’s another meaning that I believe really applies to the farm itself: “something existing in its original pristine state.”
My goal for this farm is for it to thrive on its own devices, with natural water resources hydrating nutrient-rich soils and plant life that are devoid of synthetic pesticides and chemicals. And that animals will flourish here in a humane setting, eating and living healthily and ultimately providing all-natural, hormone and chemical-free food that, in turn, helps my family and my customers live our healthiest lives.
So what is permaculture?
Bill Mollison, considered to be the father of permaculture, defines it as the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems that have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. But I love how he sums it up in laymen’s terms: “working with, rather than against, nature.”
I have some strict criteria for the farm: I will not use chemicals or synthetic pesticides on land, water or animals. The farm has to be sustainable and self-sufficient. I want the animals and land to support each other, with minimal human interference.
What is a pasture farming?
Pasture farming allows the animals to graze and forage naturally across different areas that are rotated throughout the growing season. Once the cows finish eating in one area, we move them to the next area and so on. Rotational pasturing allows the land to regenerate naturally, keeps the cattle in knee-high, fresh grass and also allows our other farm animals to contribute to the pasture’s productivity in their individual ways (see Life On The Farm). This holistic farming method means we don’t need to plow, till, or use chemical fertilizers or harmful pesticides on our land. The animals get all they need from the land, naturally. As I like to say, “pasturing makes perfect.”
Water Retention Landscape
Prior to the arrival of our animals, I worked with ecosystem consultants to ensure that the farmland could exist on its own water and rainwater resources and that our pastures and forested areas were clean and properly maintained to minimize soil erosion and nutrient loss.
Historically, the land had suffered from years of soil erosion and runoff while groundwater was scarce and rainwater was not being adequately captured. I brought in Elemental Ecosystems to devise a sustainable water supply. Using the natural slope of the land, we sculpted a series of terraces and swales (think small creeks) to capture water and distribute it throughout the farm. As we get rain, the water gently sinks into the ground and also collects in a pond and other water features, providing balanced moisture onsite. Animals and plant life benefit and the soil and valuable nutrients are no longer lost to runoff. Check out this “making of” video here. It’s functional AND beautiful.
The animals do most of the remaining work in keeping the farm healthy. By letting animals be animals–grazing and foraging on the land as nature intended–there’s no need for us to plow or till, fertilize, aerate, spray or ever give our animals antibiotics or hormones. We mainly mend fences and give them shelter. And lots of love.