Amazia Farm

Posted on Monday, 31 October 2022 under Supporting Farmers and Ranchers Featured Farmers

Situated in Oliver, BC, Amazia Farm grows organic no-till fruits and vegetables on 7 acres of owned land and 4 acres of leased land. The area had previously been a pastured system when Michael Kosaka purchased it in 2016 and was frequently in hay production.

The tilth on our farm has gone from big chunky blocks of impenetrable earth to now what’s almost like coffee grounds. It’s as close to perfect as I can imagine, but maybe it gets better and better over the years.

The effects of climate change mean that Kosaka constantly needs to adapt to changing conditions. Kosaka says, “We’re seeing big fluctuations in winter and summer temperatures. Last year, we had the hottest summer and the coldest winter all in a 12-month period.” These extremes make it difficult to navigate farm production schedules and seasonal tasks. Kosaka describes how challenging unpredictable weather is when farming. He explains, “When we get cold, wet springs that throw off our succession and planning, it’s hard to balance the business side of it. We’ll always be able to farm something; but can you keep your farm going?”

Healthy soil decreases emissions by storing carbon and reducing excess nitrogen runoff when it rains. Share on X

Amazia Farm adopts strategies to build resilience and adapt to severe changes in our climate. These efforts are both adaptation and mitigation strategies. One of the most beneficial practices they implement is no-till. Kosaka says, “Some of the ways that we’ve tried to control climate change, on a farm level, is to build in some securities. We’re no-till, and we’re moving towards perennial living mulch on the farm. So, plants serve as cover for the soil so that we get less water loss and cooler soil and thus more dynamic microbial activity.” Plowing disrupts soil activity and damages many microorganisms in the ground. Kosaka says, “Not plowing, leaves the soil food web intact.” The soil holds nutrients better and retains water, creating more fertile and resilient soil.

Healthy soil decreases emissions by storing carbon and reducing excess nitrogen runoff when it rains. Kosaka notes, “The tilth on our farm has gone from big chunky blocks of impenetrable earth to now what’s almost like coffee grounds. It’s as close to perfect as I can imagine, but maybe it gets better and better over the years.”

Kosaka adopted no-till on his farm for many reasons, both environmental and for increased productivity and resilience. Kosaka describes how the impact of COVID-19 reinforced his belief in the importance of integrating resilience in how they farm at Amazia. He says, “Bigger climate change issues create disruption. If we have a reliance on petrochemical products like plastic to protect our soil, and that source disappears, we have to have built up strategies and techniques for farming and protecting soil.”

No-till vegetable farming is a difficult and daunting task. The benefits pay off over time, but getting started can be intimidating. Kosaka suggests, “If you’re a new farmer and you want to go no-till, I think it’s really good to start from scratch and do it right. You have a shot to set things up really well for yourself.” He also advocates for farmers to do what is needed to get things done. He says, “I’m an idealist for sure, but there’s a point where you do have to tone down your idealism and just get things done and not get overwhelmed by it.” At Amazia Farm, they go with the flow and make the right financial decision for the farm. Kosaka says, “If we have to pull the tractor out to till something that’s gotten so far out of hand, rather than spending human energy trying to pull, crabgrass for example, then we’ll do it.” Climate mitigation is important but farmer well-being and financial security are also important to consider.