CFF's agricultural research is conducted on the 20-acre Coonamessett Farm in East Falmouth, Massachusetts. Our studies focus on local crop production and the challenges faced by small farmers in our region, particularly the impacts of climate change, depleted soil health and other stresses on crops and livestock. Our current focus on community scale composting will explore best practices for farm waste management and production of more nutrient dense foods, promotion of biodiversity and other human and ecological health benefits. CFF's past agricultural studies have contributed the knowledge base and small commercial farming practices in the following areas:
Field crop cultivation
Hydroponic greenhouse crop cultivation
Development of small-scale sustainable farming technologies
Development of small-scale greenhouse production systems.
Researching the feasibility of small-scale, rotational composting on small farms
Principal researcher: Allison Maikath
Funded by: The Shah Family Foundation
CFF's recently acquired Ecodrum™ Model 260 rotational, commercial composter gives our agricultural research team a living laboratory to better understand the optimal conditions for the on-site composting of organic waste materials, including animal manure, bedding materials, plant stalks, leaves, and other vegetative matter. CFF has identified the need for improvements in this process and welcomes opportunities for further research collaboration.
Some of the many advantages of an enclosed, rotary composting system (and comparable systems) over traditional open-air composting systems include: the promotion and production of beneficial micro-organisms that lead to increased water retention of soils; suppression of plant diseases and pests; enhanced soil quality, and promotion of higher crop yields. Enclosed systems also aid farmers by reducing the time and labor it takes to produce high-quality compost--from as long as a year to under a month; and the addition of a potential revenue stream of quality, locally produced compost. Benefits to the community include the reduction of odor, elimination of runoff and potential groundwater contamination and production of high-quality compost used as a soil amendment for more nutrient-dense food. All of these benefits afford ample opportunities for community engagement, education and outreach. Our composter has been sited on a central area of the Farm to facilitate our outreach efforts.
CFF’s Ecodrum™ 260 composter was funded by a generous donation from the Shah Family Foundation. Plans are under way to erect a shed structure to support an 8KW solar photovoltaic array that will provide power to the facility. Existing concrete raw material bins are a key component of the operation.