Time to think about next year. The oats are combined and sold, the straw is in the pole barn (waiting for a customer – anyone need a round bale or 22?) and Tou Pau’s corn is gone though there are still squash and over-ripe cucumbers in his field.
What have I learned so far? The oats/alfalfa plan is a good one for organic transition but not for the long-term: there isn’t enough profit in the crops to pay the rent. The future of this farm needs to include higher value crops – but which ones? I’m intrigued by hops and my grape-growing neighbor is encouraging me, but what else?
I’ve been approached by one individual who’d like to use a portion of the tillable acreage for a CSA. I wonder if anyone else would like to propose something. For next season I need to realize some income from the land but am open to non-cash returns as well. Beyond that whatever happens needs to:
- continue progress towards organic certification and
- add to the knowledge base of the farm: what works, what doesn’t, why?
With 25 tillable acres there is room for more than one project. At the moment I’m thinking that two or three trials might be good with the balance in hay (that’s what the alfalfa’s for).
What are the best next steps for this farm? Pondering . . .
This weekend, everything changed at the farm.
What had been Bob’s project with visits and a little help from family and a few friends began to become part of the life of our communities.
What amazing, generous, talented and hard-working friends we have! Folks from seven to the seventies joined our family at the farm to haul brush, clean out the barn, dig through a miserable trash heap, fill a 20-yard dumpster, do some lumberjacking, move walls and do a million other jobs then have a brew, play some music, enjoy a campfire and eat apples off the trees. If Julie’s count is correct there were 33 adults, 2 teens, 12 kids and 5 dogs.
These friends have blessed this farm and the promise it holds. The vision is still taking shape, but by sharing in the work and fun the whole project begins to find its place in the circles of friendships and communities that so enrich our lives. This is part of the dream: people coming together for work, sure, but for music, fun and connection to each other and the land.
I feel like the luckiest man in the world. Thank you every one.
Sold the oats. Got a check from the co-op. First money I’ve made farming. After paying for the combine and fuel I wonder what’ll remain.
This leads to a simple conclusion: commodity farming when you don’t have (or really want) commodity equipment isn’t practical. That’s OK. I wasn’t really thinking corn and beans on 25 tillable acres. Nope. Gotta go for some higher value products. CSA maybe, perennial fruits, or . . .
But here’s the rub: so far, most of the folks I’ve met who are into smaller-scale sustainable agriculture are thinking 2 to 10 acres – not 55 (or 25 tillable). So where will I find the right farmer who can create a workable, sustainable vision for this farm? I don’t know, but I’m going to keep looking!