Sure, we all know that sunshine and rain make the grass grow, but not all soulmates are so obvious. From beets and boron to brassicas and bugs, this Valentine's Day, we asked seasoned farmers share the perfect matches that help them produce our food.
  1. Beets + Boron
    “Our beets used to be small, inconsistent, uninspiring. But a farmer friend, whose spotless, fist-sized beets always left us jealous, suggested adding boron to our soil—yeah, Borax. After spreading the recommended two pounds per acre, our beets doubled in size the next year.” Hannah Crabtree, Roughdraft Farmstead Bowling Green, KY
  2. Craft Brewers + Grassfed Cows
    “Local craft beer makers use barley, hops, molasses, and honey to make mash for their craft beer. When they are done, we feed the mash to our grass-fed cows to add some fat and flavor to the beef. Grass-fed beef is delicious and great for you, but by working with the chefs and artisan food makers in the community, we can develop an even more delicious cut of meat, and many can be proud of the end product.” Meagan Burns, Rancho Santo Niño Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
  3. Beneficial Insects + Brassicas
    “Kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other ‘brassica’ family vegetables are notoriously prone to aphids, little sucking insects that weaken the plant. But anywhere you see aphids, you’ll also likely to find ladybugs, green lacewings, and the other so-called beneficial bugs that prey on theses pests. In fields where pesticides are not used, these natural predators are quite effective at controlling pest damage.” Brian Barth, MF contributing editor Toronto, ON
  4. Pigs + Whey
    “We make cheese, and the byproduct of that is whey—a high protein, high sugar liquid. As it happens, pigs love it and it makes for very tasty pork. We raise pigs partly as a way of using up the whey. It’s certainly a win-win situation.” Kurt Timmermeister, Kurtwood Farms and Kurt Farm Shop Vashon Island, WA
  5. Healthy Chickens + Foraging
    “Allowing chickens to forage, eat grasses and little bugs, and get plenty of sunlight and fresh air make for healthy chickens that produce amazing eggs to make a decadent creme brûlée or a delicious frittata.” Matthew Raiford, The Farmer and the Larder Brunswick, GA
  6. Farmers + Farms
    “Our country is losing thousands of farmers a year. Not to be obvious here, but we need to find ways to get more farmers taking over those lands, to relieve young farmers of college debt (as the NYFC is helping to spearhead) and get them connected to as many low interest loans as they need. Without farmers, there are no farms.” Jesse Frost, Roughdraft Farmstead Bowling Green, KY
  7. Delicious Vegetables + Good Compost
    “The flavor and nutrient content of crops are a byproduct of their survival mechanisms: Every vegetable/fruit takes its nutrients as they're presented & does its best. If presented with a limited range of nutrients, what can it do? But take rich soil, fortified with compost including all major nutrients plus trace amounts of many of the ‘ingredients’ for the plant to feast on, & you give the plant an opportunity to live up to its full potential." Shep Ogden, MF advisory board Harpers Ferry, WV