Thursday, January 27, 2022
Monday, January 17, 2022
Politics and Community
I am not a republican or a democrat and I frankly have been disappointed with the leaders both parties have put forward in the past decade. But it is precisely this focus on Washington DC that bothers me the most. I have seen liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, even Greens and Libertarians fall into a hole dug by the system and made deeper by each person who jumps in. We have allowed the political machine to turn us into all the things we despise. Cheap shots, vulgar slogans and a refusal to have mature, positive debate drives our behavior. We spin our wheels arguing about the things we cannot change, instead of protecting and promoting the things that bring us together.
I’m a small farmer and I run a farmer training program which hosts a Farmers Market every week. We are a community market that provides an affordable outlet for local farmers, ranchers, artists and crafts people to sell their goods. No vendor at our market comes from further than 10 miles to sell what they grow or make. Most don’t drive more than 3 miles.
There are very few rules at our market as we want everyone to participate. We only ask that farmers have a valid Certified Producers Certificate, those selling food have a Cottage Foods License and that all vendors have a City business license which is offered at no cost. Oh, and all vendors must make or grow what they sell. We do not allow distributors or corporate representatives. Each vendor pays a small fee to help offset the cost of promoting and insuring the market.
Our Market is all about community and we have all walks participating. The market takes place on City owned property in a parking lot shared by a Veterans Organization and it is decidedly non-political, non-religious and totally about our small semirural community and the diversity of inhabitants that make it up.
We recently had a vendor who sells printed-shirts and was selling one with a political statement. We had some complaints and I had to ask her to remove the products from her booth. The statement, in my opinion, is immature and feeds divisiveness. Just more people turning their backs on community and jumping in the political cesspool. Many of the complaints about the product came from veterans who served our Country. Yes that’s right they served our Country, not a Political Party.
That vendor, who it turns out, doesn’t make her product, she just buys and resells it, has chosen to leave the market. I am glad she has moved on and I wish her and her business much luck. But it is not the kind of business we want at the market. We are about building community, not tearing it down.
I look forward to the future of our market and our community. I look forward to working with people who are building small businesses that support community. I wake up daily excited to create a food system that provides nourishment for the bodies and minds of my community.
If your idea of community is limited to a political party, a particular candidate or politician, a single race, ethnicity or religious background then you have no place at our Community Market. Nature has taught us that diversity is strength. I for one look forward to building and maintaining a strong community through connection and support not separation on division. I hope to see you all at the next Farmers and Artisans Market as we build a community that stands together.
Monday, December 6, 2021
Learning To Farm-The Ecological Agriculture Training (EAT) Cultural Center Way
So, as many of you know, in addition to operating Windy River Farm, I also run the Ecological Agriculture Training and Cultural Center. The EAT Center is a program of Five Keys Schools and Programs and serves as a gathering space where long-time, new and beginning and prospective farmers come together to learn, share and celebrate all things “Small Farm.” We offer a 10-month wisdom-based, science informed small farm apprenticeship where students combine classroom delivered theory with farm-based hands on practice. We provide in depth one day workshops and help local farmers and ranchers sell and distribute their products.
One thing I hear over and over is “you can’t teach someone to be a farmer,” and at first, I fought that notion. Mostly, because it damaged my pride and questioned the value of what I spent much of my time doing. Over time I have come to accept and even agree with the idea that you cannot teach a person to be a farmer.
Being a farmer or rancher takes a special kind of person. It requires determination, dedication and adaptation. Patience is a crucial element. It demands that every time you get knocked down, you get back up. It takes heart. Those things can’t really be taught, however, they can be learned. Some of us were lucky enough to have those traits instilled in us early in our life and others have the opportunity to acquire them as adults through experience and mentorship.
What can be taught, are practices that lead to good farming. We teach triple bottom line practices that sustain the natural, social and economic systems of the small farm and the farm community. We focus on soil health, biodiversity, conservation, direct marketing and community as the foundations of production models and systems. Cooperation instead of competition. We avoid taking political sides because neither the left nor the right seem to embrace the Whole Farm and Farm Community the way all of us would like.
We strive to teach more than a collection of tasks. Although, there are some critical and essential tasks that we know must be completed regularly. Livestock must be fed, crops irrigated, compost turned, product sold and bills paid for examples. We teach and practice these tasks and more regularlyas part of our program. Yet, as I wake before the sun, sip coffee and write this. I know that, instinctively, there is so much more to those simple tasks then it seems on the surface. Through years of carrying out those tasks, and observing outcomes from what I put in, what my neighbors put in, and how the natural system responds, I change, redirect and adapt. It is this ability to react, that makes us good farmers.
As a student at Prescott College in the early 1990s, I studied Natural History. I learned the importance of observation. Today, I spend much of my time in the field observing. Observing what birds are where on my farm. Are they seed eating sparrows or bug eating blue birds[T1] ? What shade of green are the leaves on my bush beans? How much has the corn grown over night? What animal tracks have crossed my recently formed beds? How well is the soil holding moisture? How much organic matter is in my soil? I record all of this in my field journal.
Through observation and recording I develop systems that work with the ecology of my farm. It allows each task to have the greatest impact with the most efficiency. It makes me a working member of the farm community, not merely the overseer or “manager” of a machine.
When we combine this system of ecological observation and cooperation of our piece of the planet with the basic tasks required to produce and provide a food, fiber or flower product, we learn to farm. I have been in and around the horticultural industry for 30 years and have run my own farm for more than a decade. I continue to learn every day and this is what the Ecological Agriculture Training Cultural Center and Farm are all about.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Highlighting the Family Business
Flowers, Farming and the role of both in Community EventsThe past 15 months have been crazy. Lock downs, social distancing, businesses closing and people filling hospitals and morgues. Faces covered with masks preventing real human interaction. We crowd into big box stores like Walmart and State Brothers to hoard toilet paper and mason jars, but we couldn't join with family to celebrate holidays, births and life's achievements or to mourn deaths. Our clans were dispersed and our tribes became fractured.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Many growers put up a stake every plant or two, however, for cost savings, I only place a stake at every 3 or 4 plants. Then I attach hay string between each stake along the row. The string is wrapped around each stake to provide maximum support. I run two or three lines along the row. One at about 12 inches above the soil surface and another 24-30 inches and so on as needed.
Once my string lines are up I attach tomato plants to the stake and string as needed to hold the plants up and off of the ground. I trim the lower 8-10 inches of branches off of each plant to encourage upward growth and to allow for easier weeding and to prevent transfer of pests and pathogens from soil to plant.
Scientifically Laying Out My Corn Rows- LOL
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Establishing Irrigation and TransplantingInstalled manifold including filter and regulator
Even with the filter on the manifold, I let the water run out the end of the drip tape for a minute to remove any dust or debris
Monday, April 19, 2021
Building Semi Permanent Beds
First six beds formed at the new property
I like to form and farm on what I refer to as semi-permanent beds. These are beds, which I build and maintain over at least one year, but which can be used for as many as two or three years depending on the soil, will be utilized for at least 3 crops every year. The beds will likely grow a cover crop or remain fallow for a season before receiving an additional application of 2-3 inches of compost.
Following the application of compost and the mixing of compost and native soils with a rototiller, I build 30 inch wide beds, four to six inches high. over the next several growing seasons the beds will continue to grow in height to 6-10 inches high. I utilize a 12 inch furrow between beds and concentrate all walking and other compacting activity on those furrows.
Once the beds have been constructed, I apply overhead irrigation for a total of about 3/4 inches. This is done to germinate weeds seeds prior to direct seeding or transplanting, so they can be removed without damaging new crop plants. It also ensures adequate spoil moisture for the new seeds and plants.
The Rustic Fork: Farm Fresh and Urban Trendy Last night my wife, son and I finally made it into the Rustic Fork. The fact that this, "...
Highlighting the Family Business Flowers, Farming and the role of both in Community Events The past 15 months have been crazy. Lock downs,...
Staking Tomatoes When it comes to growing a caring for tomatoes, I don't over do it. Many of my colleagues trim and tie and care for th...
The Windy River Farm Experience Debris removal and leveling of site-Tuesday April 6th, 2021 I rented and used this John Deere 2032 to collec...