Coverdale Farm Preserve – A Vision of Soil-Centric Agriculture

Michele Wales, Farm Manager of Coverdale Farm Preserve, wasn’t halfway through our office door when the words “regenerative agriculture” filled the air. This is when we instantly realized that Coverdale Farm Preserve was something special.  After all it’s not every day that a potential client starts excitedly talking about regenerating soil before we do!

As you look out across Coverdale’s 177 acres, nestled inside Delaware Nature Society’s Land Preserve, it’s not hard to see the imprint of Michele’s soil-centric vision manifested all around you.  Alongside the vegetable row crops, in-ground hoop houses and animal manure composting, school kids are getting dirty and bonding with the land while their parents pick up their weekly CSA shares.

The Coverdale Farm Regenerative Agriculture Program’s ambitious plan is to mimic natural processes that create healthy soil, animals and ecosystems that symbiotically support each other.

After a legacy of conventional farming, Michelle, with help from her team including Patrick Eggleston,  understood that part of their mission was to first heal the soil and bring it back into structural and biologic balance. To provide a jump start, Coverdale added 150 cubic yards of Laurel Valley Soils OMRI Listed Premium Compost to their soil. Although Coverdale is not currently growing certified organic crops, incorporating OMRI Listed Premium Compost not only allows them the option to do so going forward but is in line with their values.

The compost provides organic matter for rebuilding soil structure which helps reduce soil compaction and improves water holding capacity. It also provides slow release organic nutrients and a whole civilization of microbes to recolonize the soil with microscopic life. This biology acts as the digestive system of the soil much like the biology in our own stomachs which helps us to digest food, absorb nutrients and fight of potential diseases.

In addition to using compost to improve soil, Michele has incorporated leader-follower rotational grazing throughout their perennial pastures.  Rotational grazing is scientifically designed to contribute to the health of the soil and increase biodiversity simply by letting “animals act like animals” – eating pasture grasses and depositing manure. The animals pass through a pasture in succession – cows followed by sheep who are then followed by poultry – in a continual 40- to 60- day rotation, using the land more efficiently.  The poultry are housed in mobile poultry houses which are moved every other day to allow efficient grazing and manure deposits throughout the pastures.

Other novel practices include flame weeding of plant beds prior to planting, companion planting, utilizing solar panels for energy needs, and installing row and bed covers.

Want to see all this for yourself?  Coverdale Farms is open to the public on Wednesday 11am-6pm and Saturday 9am-2pm.  There are plenty of activities, including a 22-week CSA, farm tours, and seasonal events including hayrides.  https://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/centers/coverdale-farm-preserve/

Compost Fixed the Liberty Bell’s Cracked Soil!

Can you imagine what your 1/2 acre lawn would look like with 80,000 people per year walking through it or stopping to lay out a blanket for a picnic and some sun?  With that dense foot traffic, your soil would be compacted and cracked like the Liberty Bell!

This is what many popular public landscapes, such as the Independence National Historic Park (INHP) in Philadelphia, PA, endure every year. As you can imagine, it is a huge challenge to maintain healthy turf, as there is no down-time for rest and recovery to properly address the damage and stress created from the heavy use.  Most often maintenance treatments like weed killer, grass seed and fertilizer are applied in an ever losing battle to just keep turf alive.  We call this the “life support approach”, feeding the plant from the “top down” where one is just buying time until inevitably a major renovation is required. This is when Laurel Valley Soils gets the chance to address the landscape properly from the “bottom up” and fix the soil profile by amending it with compost.  Whereas healthy soil equals healthy turf, this approach is more like curing a disease vs just treating the symptoms.

Independence National Historic Park, located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia, is a 15.5 acre park which famously houses the Liberty Bell and attracts approximately 5 million visitors per year.  As the birthplace of our nation, it is imperative for the INHP grounds to be beautiful and welcoming to the people who travel there from all around the world.

Brightview, the largest landscape contractor in North America, has been providing the ongoing maintenance for INHP.  Last year, they reached out to the National Parks Service with a very bold proposal.  Knowing that the maintenance they were performing on a limited budget was not providing the results the landscape deserved, they proposed doing a full “bottom up” renovation and offered to provide this service pro-bono.

Of course the Parks Service said yes!  Brightview then approached their network of suppliers to join them in donating products and services for this project. When Laurel Valley Soils got the call from Brightview’s Scott Chambers, INHP Project Manager, to invite us to be part of such an important project, we were thrilled and happily donated several loads of compost.

Brightview got right to work removing the stressed turf and extra soil.  Then they brought in 100 yards of LVS Premium Compost and tilled that into the remaining onsite soil.  This both aerated the soil to relieve compaction and increased the organic matter content at the same time.  Then they installed a new irrigation system and laid sod after the final grading.

Healthy soils have a well-balanced structural matrix with organic matter providing the glue that creates good aggregation.  Well aggregated soils provide pore space for oxygen, biology and drainage.  Good aggregation also improves the ability to resist erosion and compaction, while increasing the ability to store water and nutrients and promote deep penetrating root growth.

Soil’s macro pores should have a ratio of 60% water and 40% oxygen.  We all know that plants need water to survive.  But just as importantly, oxygen is required for root systems and soil microbes to be able to breathe. The organic matter supplied from the compost helps aggregate the finest soil particles such as silt and clay into larger soil particles called “soil peds”.  These soil peds are what build a good structural matrix that provide pore space/aggregation.  A helpful visual is to think of a jar of marbles.  The marbles will have void spaces between them.  Even when pressure is applied on these marbles, the matrix resists compaction maintaining the voids. Poorly aggregated soils that lack pore space will see compaction quickly set in and the water to oxygen balance break down.  Dense compacted soils will quickly flip flop from being water logged to being dried out. Additional, equally important benefits provided by compost are slow release micro and macro nutrients that will continue to feed plants for years after only one application.  These nutrients are organic based and safe for our children, pets and environment.  And let’s not forget the biology which compost provides to the soil.  Think of healthy soil biology as a natural immune system for soil that helps it fight off turf and plant disease.

During the dedication ceremony and official reopening of Independence Hall National Historic Park, we asked Scott Chambers what his biggest challenge was with this project.  Without missing a beat, he exclaimed “Mowing it!  We’ve had to mow three times already this week!”  Now that’s a challenge we think anyone would be happy to accept!

Watch a video of the project below:

Let’s Celebrate Compost During ICAW 2019!

International Compost Awareness Week: a Perfect Time to Support Your Soil & PHS: City Harvest, too!

Compost provides soil with organic matter, nutrients and biology to grow healthy, nutritious food!  Have some fun while checking how much biology is present in your garden soil by “planting” a pair of 100% cotton undies.  Leave the waistband showing, and in 8 weeks try to pull them up out of your soil!  If you get just the waistband, you have lots of hungry, beneficial microbes!  More about #SoilYourUndies here….

International Compost Awareness Week is May 4-12, 2019  Once again, we will have our Premium Compost available at events all over the Delaware Valley to promote compost use, and will donate to PHS: City Harvest for every  purchase!

BYOB:  Bring Your Own Buckets or Bags and fill ’em up with compost for $5.

We will be at the Rittenhouse Flower Market, May 4 & 5 and

New Garden Growers Market, May 4 &11

Need more than a few buckets?  Visit a participating Garden Center who will donate $3 per yard of compost purchased, and Laurel Valley Soils will MATCH that for a total of $6 per yard donated to PHS: City Harvest!

Achin Back Garden Center, Pottstown PA
Behmerwald Nursery, Schwenksville PA
Copeland’s, Stanton, DE
Delaware Hardscape, Wilmington, DE
Haines Farm and Garden, Cinnaminson NJ
Primex Garden Center, Glenside PA
Pughtown Agway, Spring City, PA
West Chester Agway, West Chester PA  

Have questions?  Call us at 610-268-5555 or email Suzanne@LaurelValleySoils.com

 

REGENERATE Your Soil! Because Sustainability is So Yesterday…

Wait—what?  We hear about sustainability every day.  What has changed?

Soil scientists predict that within the next 50 years, if soil is not protected and regenerated, it will be impossible to feed the population, keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and halt the loss of biodiversity.  So just sustaining soil is no longer acceptable.

50 years is well within many of our lifetimes, and certainly our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes.  So how can we, as professionals and homeowners, make a difference?

REGENERATE YOUR SOIL WITH COMPOST!

We must make a conscious effort to build soils through sustainable landscaping and farming practices and compost is just the tool for the job!

We have all seen depleted soil. It is lighter in color, dry, and incapable of growing anything except for maybe the hardiest of weeds.  Depleted soil is caused by many factors, including:

Erosion

Bare exposed soils are vulnerable to erosion from wind and water. As soil particles are removed, so is essential biology and nutrients required for plant growth including (N, P, K, Ca, S, Mg).

Loss of Organic Matter

Most soils are severely lacking adequate levels of organic matter. The US Composting Council, through their Strive for 5 campaign, recommends working towards achieving a soil organic matter (SOM) content of 5% to improve water holding capacity, soil structure, and most importantly, provide a habitat for microorganisms.  As SOM breaks down, it must be replaced either naturally or via amendments.  Soil cannot replace organic matter on its own.

Lack of Life

Soil biology decomposes organic matter, building soil structure and synthesizing otherwise soil-bound nutrients into plant-available nutrients. The image below is a great depiction of the relationship between soils rich in organics and biology which support healthier, more nutrient dense plants.  Humans, pets and livestock benefit greatly from these plants when consuming the vitamin, mineral and nutrient rich plant tissue. As an example, a tomato plant growing in soil rich in SOM, biology and nutrients will pass the micro and macro nutrients to its fruit, providing sustenance for the human consuming it.  Without biology’s help, the fruit will resemble a tomato in appearance only, and provide minimal nutrients and flavor.

One of the easiest and most environmentally friendly ways to regenerate soil is to amend with compost and compost-rich soil blends.  Laurel Valley’s locally produced Premium Compost provides organic matter, nutrients and indigenous biology.  Incorporating compost in your soil projects is a win for you and your clients by improving soil conditions today and for the future.

50 years will be here before we know it, and don’t we want to leave soil better than we inherited it?

#SoilYourUndies

The latest social challenge for millennial farmers and soil enthusiasts…

When was the last time you heard an adult say “I soiled my undies” and you couldn’t wait to see it?  Never?  Well we want to change that!

About a month ago, we decided to participate in the latest “millennial” challenge, and are grateful we didn’t have to dump buckets of ice water on our heads, or dance alongside our moving vehicle.  We just had to soil our undies!

Healthy soil contains a diverse community of microbiology.  In fact, one teaspoon of healthy soil contains over ONE BILLION microbes!  This biology contains a multitude of strains of beneficial bacteria and fungi that work together to provide a symbiotic relationship between soil and plants.  Plants secrete compounds that attract microbes, and in return, microbes eat organic matter and deliver nutrients to plants in a form in which plants are able to uptake them.

So here’s where the undies come into the picture…

Microbes aren’t picky when it comes to organic matter.  100% cotton underwear is just as appetizing to microbes as hay or leaves or banana peels.  For a fun, cheeky way to show the power of microbes,  Laurel Valley Soils has joined many farmers and fellow soil enthusiasts throughout the world in the #SoilYourUndies challenge.  We purchased some brand new Fruit of the Loom tighty whities to bury in our soil and compost to see for ourselves how quickly the microbes will decompose the cotton.  Based on the results from others who already completed the challenge, it was thought that to completely break down the underwear, it would take about 8 weeks.

We buried our undies in a fish tank filled with Laurel Valley Premium and Fresh Compost, in a raised vegetable garden filled with our Garden Soil, and in a windrow of Premium Compost.  Imagine our delight when after only 3 weeks, this is what we saw in the fish tank???  There were some HUNGRY microbes in there!

We will be displaying the results of our #SoilYourUndies challenge, along with lots of great information about making and using compost at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival on September 8 and 9, 2018.  Stop by our Booth# B57 where you can have the pleasure of meeting 1 billion of our finest microbes, and even take some home for your garden!  We hope to see you there!

Feed Your Soil & Feed Your Neighbors During Compost Awareness Week, May 5-13, 2018

Compost For Cupboards

May 5-13, 2018 is International Compost Awareness Week, and once again we are celebrating by supporting local food banks and food assistance programs. We hope you will join us!

Through our #CompostForCupboards program, Laurel Valley Soils has partnered with PHS City Harvest and Fulfill as the beneficiaries for this year’s #ICAW2018 campaign.

For more than a decade, Laurel Valley Soils has teamed up with PHS to provide Premium Compost, Garden Soil and Enriched Topsoil for their LandCare Program and Urban Farms, such as Bartram’s Garden and Mill Creek Farm.

Here are several ways we can all help to feed our soil and feed our neighbors during ICAW:

  1.  Visit the New Garden Growers Market on May 5 and 12, 2018, purchase Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost and 100% of the $ of your purchase will be donated to PHS City Harvest!  BYOB  (Bring Your Own Bag or Bucket) or BYOT  (Bring Your Own Truck) for larger quantities of compost.
  2.  Visit Bartram’s Garden on May 5, 2018 from 12pm-2pm and BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag or Bucket) to pick up some Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost for all your spring gardening needs.  100% of of your $ donation will go to PHS City Harvest!
  3.  Visit a participating Garden Center, (Molzon Landscape NurseryAchin Back Garden Center, Primex Garden Center, Delaware Hardscape, Behmerwald Nursery, Pughtown AgwayHaines Farm and Garden, West Chester Agway, Feeney’s, County Line Nursery) and purchase Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost for your spring gardening needs, and $6 per yard of compost purchased will be donated to PHS City Harvest (or Fulfill when Premium Compost is purchased at Molzon’s).
  4.  Join Laurel Valley Soil’s  Joe DiNorscia at Primex Garden Center, where he will share his knowledge of all things compost at 11:30 am on Saturday, May 5! Check out a demo of live mushrooms growing in compost, and then learn how that same compost helps you grow robust gardens and landscapes! Joe will be will be available after the workshop from 12:00pm – 2:00pm to answer all your compost questions.
  5. Donate!  Thank you to Surburban Contractors Association for their donation!

Have questions?  Call us!  610-268-5555 or email Suzanne.

 

How Black Gold Helped Mercedes Benz Stadium Achieve Platinum

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

Scott Jenkins is the General Manager of the newly-designed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons.  Scott had a vision to be #1, and was determined to make that happen when the facility opened in August of 2017.  And Scott got his wish, although maybe not in the way you might expect, as the Falcons fell to the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC Division win that year.

But in the green building world, the Falcons’ home field is on the record books.  Mercedes Benz Stadium is the 1st professional sports stadium to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, which is a Super Bowl-esque sized win for Jenkins and his team of architects, planners, builders and installers.

One of the reasons MB Stadium was able to achieve this prestigious status was its incorporation of compost as part of its landscape and stormwater design plans.  150 tractor trailer loads of compost-enriched engineered soil was amended into native soil on site and  installed in bioswales and other water retention areas to capture, retain and manage high volumes of water runoff from large areas of impervious surfaces.

Many municipal ordinances and best practices require the addition of organic matter to existing soil whenever installation of plant material takes place.  A target of 5% organic matter in soil provides increases in the following:

  • Water retention
  • Nutrient retention
  • Microbial activity
  • Sustainability
  • Physical, chemical and biological properties

In addition, project material costs can be reduced by up to 2/3 when 2″ of compost is applied vs bringing in 6″ of topsoil, while also lowering the project’s carbon footprint.

Want to learn more?  Check out the video below for more information:

 

 

Dedication: It’s What Gets Us All Paid!

We know how time sensitive stabilization can be when approaching the end of a project.  It is critically important to get your seed down and achieve germination before the November cut off.  Once a site is stabilized, converting the silt catch basins into functioning bioretention basins is the last key deliverable for dedication.

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Having an experienced soil partner that understands the needs of your project is the key to achieving fast and successful slope stabilization and basin conversions.  Laurel Valley is a unique soil producer, as not only do we have a state of the art manufacturing facility, we have an experienced team who understands the chemistry and science of soils so we can make the quality compost and engineered soils that your projects require.

We have been in business since long before “bioretention Soil” was even a product; making compost for more than forty years and blending soil products for nearly twenty.  Specializing in PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Philadelphia Water Department specifications is just some of what we do.

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We take the science of soil seriously and we work closely with landscape architects, soil engineers, universities and soil testing laboratories.  Soil specifications and the soil submittal process have become very complicated.  Our in-depth understanding of soil blending and soil specifications allow us to provide accurate and competitive pricing up front.  Don’t allow yourself to get to the end of the project only to find out that you have budgeted for the wrong soil blend or have your soil submittal rejected.

You can have confidence in knowing that we provide the whole package from inventorying the highest quality ingredients with large volume production capacity to providing guidance through the bid process and delivering testing and submittals.  Consider Laurel Valley not only your go to manufacture but your trusted advisor.  Your success is our success.

Laurel Valley Soils Dirt Shed

Project Location:  Christiana Fashion Center, Christiana, DE

Bioretention Basin:  3225 cu yds DENREC B-14 Bio-Soil:  60% Sand, 10% STA Compost, 30% Mulch

Christiana Fashion Center

As part of a new outdoor retail shopping center, a stormwater management plan adhering to local BMP’s was developed.  Several bioretention basins were strategically placed throughout the property to capture stormwater runoff from the buildings and paved areas.

Christiana Fashion Center After

Project:  Aerzen USA, LEED-Certified Facility, Coatesville, PA

Rain Gardens:  200 cu yds of Rain Garden Soil:  50% sand, 25% compost, 25% native soil

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Aerzen USA’s recent headquarters expansion was designed with environmental responsibility in mind.  The goal of this project was to double the office space, and add 30% more manufacturing area while including as many green building practices as possible.  In addition to the rain gardens, Aerzen incorporated solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and a garden which produces 250 lbs of vegetables per year that are donated to local food banks.

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Project Location:  Applecross, Downingtown, PA

Bioretention Basin:  800 cu yds of Bioretention Soil:  40% sand, 30% compost, 30% native soil

A Bioretention Basin was installed to manage stormwater runoff within this golf course and housing community.

Applecross

Project Location:  Wegman’s, Glen Mills, PA

Bioretention Basin:  1518 cu yds Bioretention Soil:  35% STA compost, 20% sand, 45% native soil

Wegman's

Project Location:  Pennsylvania Turnpike, Northbound Shoulder, South of Exit 105

Shoulder Stabilization:  Enriched Topsoil

Bear Creek-1

Laurel Valley Soils Enriched Topsoil was installed for road shoulder stabilization as part of a new interchange project on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

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Have questions?  Want to see how we can help YOU?  Contact us!  Jake@LVSoils.com.  610-268-5555.

Marketing Topdressing is E-Z with our Topdressing Tool Kit!

Want to Start Offering Topdressing?

Already Offer Topdressing, but Want to Increase Sales?  

Check out our Topdressing Marketing Tool Kit!

Laurel Valley Soils Topdressing Marketing Kit

Topdressing Flyer

Here is a flyer you can send to your customers via EDDM, add to a Val-Pak campaign, or slip into your door hangers after other services.  We will add your company info (for FREE!) and send the file to your printer.  Here is a sample:

Happy family with children near new house. Construction and real estate concept.

Flyer Front

Flyer Back

Flyer Back 

Eblast Template

Want to send an email to all your customers to promote Topdressing, but don’t have the time to design something catchy?  Well, look no further!  You can download this template, or call us to have it tweaked for you, and voila!  Instant Eblast!

Topdressing Eblast Template

Download Topdressing Eblast Template

 Have questions? Need help?  Call Suzanne at 610-268-5555 or email:  Suzanne@LaurelValleySoils.com.

What Business-Boosting Super Power Would You Choose?

Compost man

Would you wish for improved moisture holding capacity in your soil, so your plants would have increased drought tolerance and stay vibrant all summer?  Would you want to lighten up your heavy clay soils, improving percolation and reducing compaction, or would you want organic slow release nutrients that can steadily feed your plants all season long?

It would be hard to choose, right?  Because each of your projects may have different requirements and specifications, how would you ever be able to pick just one super power?

The good news is that you don’t have to pick just one!  You can actually get all these powers and more by simply incorporating Laurel Valley Soils OMRI Listed Premium COMPOST into your landscapes!

Organic matter has been Mother Nature’s go-to Super Power since 2320 BC.  We challenge you to think about how compost can super-charge not only your customers’ landscape installations, but your business!  Check out the infographic below to see how incorporating compost into your projects can get RESULTS, and elevate YOUR Company above the rest!

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Call us today!   We have your OMRI Listed, STA Certified, Super-Powered Premium Compost that is screened, dry, and ready for action!  610-268-5555.