Monday, January 9, 2012

How Leo Spent his Winter Vacation

Planting winter potatoes
Driving Griselda through the Rows.  Note the mini-tiller is called Griselda because it refuses to start for anyone else besides Leo.  Of course, that makes me Grissel.

Chipping Corn Stalks

Dyeing Fabric

Flaming WeedsPulling Weeds, Hauling Trash,  Culling Chickens, Fixing, Organizing, Tilling, Making New Beds, Removing Old Beds....

Now we are ready for the next season.  Thank you Leo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How we became an Organique Farm

Making compost
Yes, since the term "organic" is now owned by folks who can afford to pay to exclude others from farming "organically", we are now an organique farm.

Soil Amendments?
Well, in 20 years of farming we have never used pesticides or herbicides.  Our soil amendments are typically compost, bone meal, feather meal, blood meal, greensand,  etc. etc.,  note that you do not see anything manufactured by the war machine re-labled as fertilizer applied to our fields.  We are very careful about only using what we need and applying it at the right time.

About our seeds?
Doing Paperwork
What we can save ourselves from our own farm, we do.  It's a long process and pretty much eats up a lot of time.  Those that we can't save, we purchase.  I do all the purchasing here and my criteria is that I would rather buy seed from a small company that I trust than a big company who's only claim to fame is that they purchased seeds from Monsanto and sent them out to another big agribusiness to be grown "organically".   I buy seeds and trade for seeds all over the world.  I get seeds from fellow like-minded farmers, seed banks, little old ladies, seed libraries, the man down the street and from you my CSA customers.  We have never planted anything GMO.  I specifically do not buy any seeds from Monsanto or anyone who trades in genetically modified seeds.  There are others that I will not buy from and the search for seeds gets more difficult, that's why we save them.  Why don't I just buy organic seeds?  Variety.  With less diversity comes more risk.  One type of squash or two may succumb to squash bugs, but 15 kinds of squash?  Well, we're sure to get one or two or maybe 10.  And we are always working on the perfect variety for here.  And if you ever want to know where a seed came from, just ask.  Yes, I do keep a master list of every seed and every provider.  With 500 varieties that's one big list.

Farming practices
We cover crop when and where we can.  We rotate our crops.  We select for disease resistance.  We exclude problem creatures where possible.  We use a small rototiller.  We don't till if we don't have to.  We try to eliminate waste where ever possible.  Our irrigation is all drip and timers and we have been conserving water before it was required.

Weighing tomatoes?
So what's the difference between us and those certified organic growers?
They are required to turn their compost every few days.  I turn and make compost in the winter.
They are required to weigh their produce and record their harvests.  I have more important things to do than fuss over how many tomatoes came in, like getting the tomatoes in.
They are required to document their search for organic seeds.  So let's say I'm going to buy some seeds from Johnny's and they have 3 types of squash that are organic and the 4th one is not.  I have to hunt all over the kingdom for the 4th squash and pay extra shipping to get it here, rather than ordering all four from Johnny's.  It's enough to search for seed, but to write it all down as well, that's why farmer's give up and only plant one thing.
They have to record every time they weed.  Now that's just down right silly.  I weed while thinking, standing, feeding chickens, and talking.  I'd be spending more time writing down what I do than doing it.

What we are really about
So basically I'm saying that we are doing the same things we have always done but thrown the paperwork that leads farmers to mono-cropping out the window.  We will continue to do so.  We are a unique family farm and we will continue to farm conscientiously, caring for the earth, singing to the corn, feeding feral cats, stomping the occasional gopher, and as always we invite you to ask any questions and make suggestions.

It's going to be a good year.  We are already $35 richer by not paying for organic registration.  Although it was hard giving up my number.  0001.  Leo and I were the first registered organic farmers in Santa Clara County.  But now we can spend more time doing what we really love, farming.

Your stake in all of this
You're a family, you have to chose your food and sometimes there is a difference between the gorgeous stuff at Lunardi's and Whole Food and what I send you.  You're a stakeholder in this farm, and if you don't like something, speak up, we are not going to make you eat Brussel Sprouts.  But we will do our best to make sure that the food that you get from us is safe, healthy, and fresh.  So stick with us, we'll grow together.