Modern agriculture has become largely reliant on farming large fields which grow a single crop. This large scale mono culture farming is reliant on chemical "cides" to manage pests, disease and weeds; far from the native, natural ecosystems that work to maintain a balance in nature.

Manorun Organic Farm is in the early stages of bringing back an older, more natural farming system, called the Oak Savanna, which focuses on this balance. In a savanna the balance of nature helps to manage the modern-day challenges to farming, such as disease, soil fertility and erosion.

The farm started by planting 2,000 indigenous trees and shrubs and forming swales throughout their 20 acre field to capture rain water and distribute it to drier areas of the field.

The Savannah stacks food vertically in 4 stories. The top layer is made up of mature soft and hard wood trees, below that are smaller fruit bearing trees, then bushes and vines and finally grasses. Each layer produces food in an area that would otherwise be one crop, providing an alternative option to our current food system. 


   The key characteristic of the oak savanna is the open-grown oak; a tree that has developed in the open, away from other trees. The farm's Oak Savanna field design is young in it's existence, however in 10 to 15 years the trees will start to act as a source of shade and a shadier environment will help to maintain moisture in the soil during times of drought. The trees will also work to prevent large gusts of wind from coming through the fields, eroding and drying out the top soil.


The digging of swales was one of the first tasks brought to our oak savanna. The swales are deep flat bottomed trenches woven throughout the field designed to hold water, eliminate erosion, infiltrate the surrounding area with water, and recharge the groundwater table. Our pond, also built to aid in the field design, is turned to in times of drought to irrigate our fields and water our animals as a sustainable alternative.


   Hay is a crucial element to the farm. It feeds and provides nutrients for the livestock, which in turn helps to manage the soil fertility from the manure produced by the livestock. In addition, hayfields provide nutrients and left over plant matter which improves soil structure. Properly using a forage crop in the field rotation breaks the cycles of weeds, diseases and insect pests.


Rotating livestock throughout the field acts to optimize animal health, pasture integrity, and economic productivity. The horses, cows, pigs, and chickens are all part of this key element of our oak savanna. It is important that all pastures be given some “rest” time. Overgrazing can cause muddy conditions, erosion, killing desired pasture species and allowing for the introduction of weeds that tolerate compacted soils. While undergrazing is also undesirable as animals are likely to graze selectively, allowing less desirable plants to outcompete desired ones. Undergrazed pastures require more frequent mowing to keep undesirable plants in check, and especially to keep those plants from going to seed and spreading further.  

Using Format