Martin Rothe has been farming biodynamically for forty years, running several orchards over the decades. He now manages 12 acres at Rothe Farm in Oliver. Of that, there are four and a half acres in production of apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and one acre of cherries off location. The orchard’s soil is rich in nutrients thanks to the biodynamic practices that Rothe adopts. “You’re trying to create a biodiverse environment on and around your farm,” he says.
The biggest initiative on their farm is their compost operation. Fruit waste from the orchard and surrounding orchards is dumped strategically in piles to be composted. It is mixed with chicken, cow, horse, and mushroom manure as well as dry debris like straw and decaying plant material. Once the compost is ready for use, it is screened for rocks and spread under the orchard trees. This initiative closes the waste loop on Rothe’s orchard and ensures he knows exactly what is going back into his soil, reduces waste coming off of his farm, and eliminates the need to truck in enough compost for the entire orchard. This is an important initiative for Rothe because compost creates hummus, which is a key contributor to soil regeneration. He says, “Soil needs constant regeneration and the way to do that is to continue to surround the trees with farm-made compost that replenishes and builds up the soil.” Rothe says, “Running a composting system on the farm is a huge job, almost as much as running a whole orchard.”