Updates From The Farm

July 2, 2024, Everson WA – Cloud Mountain Farm Center is a nonprofit organic fruit production farm and nursery in Everson WA. They share knowledge and resources to build accessible and equitable regional food systems, foster land stewardship, and reduce climate impacts. Cloud Mountain provides a variety of programs and services to their community, including a beloved retail nursery and workshops, organic fruit orchards, aggregation and processing facilities, and agricultural workforce development. They are excited to announce that they were recently awarded a grant from the Sustainable Path Foundation to support their innovative Hydromulch Demonstration and Education project.

Hydromulch, or recycled paper-based mulch, is an exciting new development in farm technology that allows organic farmers to protect crops and enhance soil health without the use of plastics. Hydromulch requires no removal, which makes it less labor intensive.

Currently, plastic-based mulch is widely and conventionally used to inhibit weeds and pests. Unfortunately, plastic-based mulch breaks down quickly and frequently needs to be removed and replaced. This contributes to plastic waste and leaves plastics in the ground to pollute soils and waterways. Approved biodegradable plastics are not yet made for organic growers – a safe, effective non-plastic alternative is urgently needed. Hydromulch is one such alternative with the potential to build healthier soil, provide practical and accessible solutions for organic farmers, and keep weeds and pests at bay.

With critical and generous support from the Sustainable Path Foundation, as well as a partnership with Washington State University NW Research and Education Center (WSU NWREC), Cloud Mountain Farm Center will serve as a trial and demonstration site for hydromulch with the intention to analyze efficacy and soil health impact, note successes and challenges, and share information and equipment with interested farmers.

As Maia Binhammer, Cloud Mountain Farm Center’s Fruit Program Manager, says, “This project has exciting implications for organic farmers. Black plastic is a tool many producers rely upon but would love to move away from for sustainability and labor reasons. Hydromulch will be a great tool for in-bed weed suppression and water conservation for both annual and perennial growers if we can pin-point the best materials, application methods, and timing for deployment. Our team is providing the on-farm trials and problem-solving needed to help ensure this technology can be better adapted forsmall and medium-scale organic farmers.”


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