As a non-profit, Green String Institute’s mission is to educate a new generation of farmers on how to respect the earth and respond to the needs of their environment as they raise food that brings health to local populations. Our goal is to show students how to improve the biology of the lands that they steward while growing healthy food.
Operating on 140 acres in the rolling hills of Petaluma, California, is Green String Farm. The Farm has opened their doors and fields, allowing the Institute to host the internship program on a highly diversified natural process farm.
We live and grow by the motto, "50% for nature, 50% for humans." Maintaining a balance between crops grown to feed the soil and crops grown for human consumption. At Green String, we focus on developing soil and plant health in lieu of fighting diseases and pests. The Idea is a self-nourishing system in which healthy active soil leads to hearty plants that will develop their inherent immune system to ward off pests and disease on their own.
The Green String Institute aims to empower aspiring farmers with the knowledge, skills, and work ethic necessary to feed their communities and become responsible stewards of the land. The internship experience is structured to include practical field work, comprehensive classroom time, and community building. The program is truly an education in the subtleties of observation, learning to understand what you see and have the confidence to respond to it. We start from the bottom up, involving interns in the whole farming process to show our students the perseverance necessary to run a farm. Lectures lay out a foundation ranging from basic tool and equipment maintenance, plant health characteristics, to site selection and development. Students earn a sense of community from living together, managing projects, and sharing responsibilities. Our approach is immersive and participative, resulting in agricultural athletes with a basic set of skills and know-how as well as being conscientious members of their respective communities.
We utilize cover cropping to keep our soil protected from the elements and active with biology. Soil health is the basis for the nutritional support you find in your food. Along with planting our food crop, soil improvement plants are seeded between rows. On top of our cover, we allow our weed crops to grow freely once our food crops are established. We grow our cover crops and weeds into maturity and reincorporate them in our soil. This practice adds essential nutrients while providing root systems that improve soil structure.
We stimulate soil biology using compost and compost tea. Compost is the microbial counterpart to cover cropping - beneficial bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and protozoa are the foundation of life, and compost is essential to bringing these microbes into the soil. Compost tea is a liquid extracted from steeped and aerated compost. Soil biology digests raw soil materials making minerals readily available for plants. Soil biology protects crops and holds soil structure. We supplement the mineral supply of the soil with gypsum, crushed volcanic rock and oyster shell when necessary, providing the crops and soil microorganisms a wide range of minerals essential to their, and our vitality.
Every plant improves soil structure by spreading roots and tunneling through the dirt. Instead of fighting against our weeds, we let them grow alongside planted cover crops and food crops. When the weeds begin impeding on our young food crop, it is time to manage the competition by hoeing, hand weeding or scything. Once our crop is established, we allow the weeds to grow freely and reach maturity. Weed crops offer much needed soil organic matter, as well as indicate the state of our soil health.
Green String Farm
Board of Directors