We practiced Sustainable Agriculture at Lakeview Farms long before the term was coined
Next time you visit Lakeview farms notice the extensive number of storm water drainage basins scattered across our farm. Each basin is connected to ½ mile of 6" or 8" drainage pipe that channels excess rain water underground to our 1 acre lake which is used for irrigation. Like a underground sewer system, this drainage pipe requires costly periodic maintenance and repair. Our good topsoil is a loamy clay that is particularly susceptible to water erosion in heavy rains which could wash excess sediment into our lower creek. The initial drainage basins were designed by the St. Charles County Soil Conservation Service and constructed in 1978 by my father, Bert Laskowski who operated an excavating business in Indiana.
While our farm is located in the heart of suburbia and surrounded by homes, it still has a green, park-like look. We have over 8 acres of mowed turf grass that also serves to stabilize the soil from heavy rains and permit people and farm equipment movement in wet conditions without significant soil compaction and rutting. As you could well imagine from experience with your home lawn, maintaining all this turf grass each year is time consuming and expensive proposition. In addition to the 8 acres of grass, we plant a significant portion of our acreage in green cover crops like wheat, rye, and sorghum each year. These cover crops are then incorporated into the soil and serve as a source of nutrients and organic matter (sort of a "green" manure) for the next crop.
When picking strawberries note that our strawberries are mulched with straw (a renewable resource) and not plastic which is petroleum based. Almost 100% of the strawberries grown in California and a smaller % in Missouri and Illinois are grown on raised plastic beds mulched with black plastic that is sent to a landfill after only one years use (dirt contamination normally makes it unrecyclable) . In addition, growers on raised black plastic beds in colder climates like Missouri are forced to use polyester row covers to cover the berries to protect against winter injury. These polyester covers are also petroleum based but can occasionally be reused for two or three years.
When you are in our berry checkout line notice how many of our customers bring & reuse their fruit containers from last year. At Lakeview Farms we do more than just provide lip service to the concept of being sensitive to environmental issues and recycling. Since 1979 we have been providing a significant financial incentive to encourage our berry customers to reuse the containers that we provide free of charge for bringing fruit home. This recycling incentive applies to both cardboard boxes and fruit tills.
While we do use conventional chemicals on our farm, we take great care to minimize damage to beneficial organisms like bees and predatory insects/fungi. Most of California's strawberry crop is currently fumigated -- an operation that injects a highly reactive gas like methyl bromide and/or chloropicrin into the soil under plastic which effectively sterilizes the soil without (apparently) causing serious environmental consequences. This is a practice we normally followed until 2007. Unfortunately, besides weed, soil insects and harmful soil-born diseases, these fumigants apparently also kill beneficial fungi that normally keep soil-born diseases in check. Fumigation might give us a one year vacation from soil fungus problems like black root rot but generally meant a more serious problem in years 2 and 3 since the beneficial rhizoctonia fungi were not present to keep the "bad guys" in check.