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Farmer to Farmer with Chris Blanchard
71 minutes | Aug 30, 2018
176: Jan Libbey of One Step at a Time Gardens on Scaling Up, Scaling Down, and Partnerships and Networking
Jan Libbey raises three acres of vegetables with her husband, Tim Landgraf, at One Step at a Time Gardens in North Central Iowa. With sales through their CSA and the North Iowa Fresh Food Hub, the market farm makes up one of multiple streams of income that include cash rent and CRP income on their 132 acre farm. We dig into how Jan and Tim have made One Step at a Time Gardens work in rural Iowa, with an emphasis on their marketing efforts. Jan shares the story of growing the market farm operation, and then choosing to shrink it again as the business matured. We discuss how they’ve chosen their investments on the farm so that they are mechanizing where it counts. We take a deep dive into their carrot production and the crop rotation they follow on their hilly farm, as well as the landscape and habitat restoration efforts Tim and Jan have made over the years and how those fit into the life and economy of the farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/libbey.
58 minutes | Aug 23, 2018
175: Lauren Palmer of Bloomsbury Farm on Sprouts, CSA, and Community Connections
Lauren Palmer raised 15 acres of vegetables in Smyrna, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. With year-round production, a sprouts operation, a 300-member CSA, wholesale accounts, farmers markets, and on-farm events, Bloomsbury Farm is a thriving hot spot in the local food scene in Nashville. We dig into how Lauren has built the farm from the ground up since its start in 2009, taking a deep dive into Bloomsbury’s sprout production, employment structures, and CSA setup. We discuss how she deals with extreme deer pressure and regulations, and how she navigated a farm divorce. And Lauren reflects on the value of four-season production and building relationships with her customers and community. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/palmer.
75 minutes | Aug 16, 2018
174: Jack Algiere of the Stone Barns Center on a Diversified Farm, a Close Partnership with a Restaurant, and Innovative Production
Jack Algiere is the farm director for Stone Barns Center in the New York’s lower Hudson Valley. Actively farming since the early 1990s, Jack has been the director at Stone Barns since its inception fifteen years ago. Jack oversees the extensive and diversified farm operations, including indoor and outdoor vegetable production, small grains, and a diverse array of livestock. Most of the farm’s produce and meat is sold to the partner restaurant Blue Hill, and we dig into how this relationship has benefitted both the farm and the restaurant. We also take a look at how the vegetables are integrated into the livestock and pasture operation, the half-acre gutter connect greenhouse and how that differs from high tunnel production, and the compost heating system for the propagation operation. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/algiere.
76 minutes | Aug 9, 2018
173: Jean-Martin Fortier of La Ferme de Quatre Temps on Intensive Production on More Acres
Jean-Martin Fortier is most famous for his book, “The Market Gardener,” based on the high-output systems he developed at Quebec’s Les Jardens de la Grelinette, where his wife, Maude Helen, currently produces over $150,000 of produce on an acre and a half of production ground. He currently farms at La Ferme de Quatre Temps, an enlarged version of the same model on six acres of production ground. We dig into the foundations of JM’s production model, from high fertility to an emphasis on weed prevention, and how that model has translated to more acres on his new project. JM reflects on the changed constraints with his new farm, and we discuss the lessons that JM has learned about personnel with a much larger crew and a different role for himself. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/jmf.
77 minutes | Aug 2, 2018
172: Allan Gandelman of Main Street Farms on Meeting People’s Needs through Scaling and Marketing Decisions
Allan Gandelman raises 45 acres of crops at Main Street Farms in central New York state with his partner, BobCat. With twenty employees in its eighth year in business, Main Street Farms sells through a CSA, farmers market, and wholesale accounts. Main Street Farms got its start in 2011 with an acre of production and an aquaponics set up, so they’ve grown a lot in the last eight years and Allan and I talk a lot about the process of scaling up their operation and finding their way with different mixes of enterprises and marketing outlets, and how that has meshed with meeting the needs of people on the farm. We dig into Main Street Farms’ 42-week CSA, their acre of greenhouse production, and their new hemp enterprise and how it all fits together into a coherent whole. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/gandelman.
80 minutes | Jul 26, 2018
171: Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox of Kitchen Garden Farm on Scaling Up, Value-Added Products, and Wholesale Marketing
Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox farm 50 acres of vegetables at Kitchen Garden Farm in Western Massachusetts. Starting with an acre of produce in 2006, Caroline and Tim have steadily expanded the farm’s scale and added fire-roasted salsa and a naturally fermented sriracha to their farm’s production. We discuss the value-added products and how those fit into the work and overall business of Kitchen Garden Farm, since they account for a significant portion of the farm’s revenue. Tim and Caroline dig into the process of scaling up their operation, including how they manage a multitude of different locations for production. And Caroline and Tim share how they’ve developed a wholesale-only marketing strategy, and the nuts and bolts of how that works on their farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/kitchengarden.
72 minutes | Jul 19, 2018
170: Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri of Fair Share Farm on CSA Transitions, Greening the Farm, and a Fermented Food Business
Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri raise vegetables for a hundred-member CSA, manage a small laying flock, and operate a cottage-scale fermented food business at Fair Share Farm, 45 minutes north of Kansas City, Missouri. They’ve been farming together on family land since 2004 after meeting in the fields at Peacework Organic Farm in upstate New York. We dig into the nitty gritty of their member-oriented CSA program, and the changes its undergone in the last couple of years as Rebecca and Tom have looked to change the farm’s economic basis and their quality of life. Tom and Rebecca share how they’ve changed their sign-up process and work requirement as their CSA goes through transitions. We also take a hard look at their fermented foods production and how that fits in with their vision for the farm and the CSA model, as well as the efforts they’ve made to reduce the overall ecological footprint of the farm with a solar greenhouse, an electric tractor, and a vigorous cover crop and soil building effort. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/fairshare.
89 minutes | Jul 12, 2018
169: Nate Fingerle of River Ridge Farm on Four Seasons of Fresh Vegetables in Rural Indiana
Nate Fingerle has been farming with his family at River Ridge Farm in north-central Indiana for ten years. With one-and-a-half acres of production and ten thousand square feet of high tunnels, River Ridge provides vegetables to its customers year-round. River Ridge has found success in a rural agricultural community with a combination of farmers markets, an on-farm retail store, and restaurant sales. We dig into how Nate and his family make this all work, and some of the details of how a lot of hustle has helped to cobble together a successful business in an unlikely marketplace. Nate also shares his straightforward production techniques, including field work, fertility planning, transplant production, irrigation, weed control, and how he make season extension really pay in the high tunnels and out. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/fingerle.
80 minutes | Jul 5, 2018
168: Karen Washington of Rise and Root Farm on Self-Care, Managing Relationships, and Addressing Social Justice and Food Issues on a For-Profit Farm
Karen Washington owns and operates Rise and Root Farm with Lorrie Clevenger, Jane Hodge, and Michaela Hayes. Located in Chester, New York, just a little over an hour from New York City, Karen and her partners raise an acre of produce to serve two New York City Farmers Markets. Karen shares the story of finding land for farming in rural New York state, and how she and her fellow growers have made the transition from backyard urban gardening to commercial production. Karen digs into the nuts and bolts of how they address the social justice issues that are so important them while still tending to the needs of their for-profit farming operation. We also discuss the challenges of and some strategies for communication and managing farm relationships with love and healing – and how that’s not always the easiest thing to do. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/washington.
89 minutes | Jun 28, 2018
167: Genesis McKiernan-Allen and Eli Robb of Full Hand Farm on Four-Season Farming for Restaurants and Farmers Markets in Indiana
Genesis McKiernan-Allen and Eli Robb raise vegetables year-round at Full Hand Farm, 45 minutes northeast of Indianapolis. Going into year seven of their operation, Genesis and Eli have between four and five acres of produce production, with half of their sales going to farmers market and half going to restaurants in Indianapolis. Eli and Genesis dig into how they’ve managed a black rot infestation in their brassica crops, as well as how they weathered an herbicide drift incident by marketing with honesty and integrity. We take a look at the details of winter production in their operation, including the highs and lows of mobile high tunnels, their design for caterpillar tunnels and how those fit into their rotation, and how four-season production fits into their business and marketing plans. We also make an honest evaluation of starting a farm where the food scene was not fully developed, and how that worked for them; and take a similarly honest look at starting a family on the farm, and how they’ve made that work. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/fullhand.
80 minutes | Apr 12, 2018
166: Mike Madison of Yolo Press on Organic Fresh Flowers, Olive Oil, and Value-Added Products in California’s Central Valley
Mike Yolo raises 14 acres of organic olives, cut flowers, a variety of tree fruits, and the occasional vegetable crop at Yolo Press, near Davis, California. With his wife, Diane, Yolo Press creates olive oil and a variety of value-added products that are sold with the cut flowers through independent grocers and farmers markets in Davis. Yolo Press has provided a living for Mike and Diane since 1986. We dig into the development of Yolo Press’ crop mix and markets, and how they developed to accommodate farmer labor and to provide a good living for Mike and Diane. Mike provides all of the production labor on the farm, so we discuss the hows and the whys of making that work, as well as the economics of the farm business and value-added products. Mike is also the author of the recently published Fruitful Labor: The Ecology, Economy and Practice of a Family Farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/madison.
83 minutes | Apr 5, 2018
165: Olivia Hubert of Brother Nature Produce on Raising Salad Greens in Detroit, World War II Gardening, and Farm Yoga
Olivia Hubert farms with her husband, Greg Willerer, at Brother Nature Produce in Detroit Michigan, as well as at a farm an hour north of the city. Specializing in salad mix and fresh herbs sold to farmers markets, grocers, and restaurants, Brother Nature provides a living for both Greg and Olivia. Olivia grew up in Detroit, where she fell in love with agriculture as a high school student. After studying at the Royal Horticulture Society of London, Olivia returned to Detroit, where she met Greg and joined him on his upstart urban farm. Olivia shares her experience farming with both sides of Detroit’s environment, where gunshots and extreme poverty are never far from health nuts and concentrated wealth. She digs into what she learned about urban farming from the World-War-II gardening ethos in England, how they’ve learned to manage flea beetles, and how she and Greg grow fresh salad greens in the city without active refrigeration. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/hubert.
81 minutes | Mar 29, 2018
164: Tom Kumpf of Double-T Farm on Right-Sizing the Farm, Rolling with the Punches, and Making the Transition to Full-Time Farming
Tom Kumpf raises about four acres of vegetables at Double-T Farm in Garner, North Carolina, just south of Raleigh. Double-T Farm markets through a CSA, restaurants, and a small neighborhood farmers market. Farming full time since 2008, and part time for many years before that, Tom and his wife, Theresa Ryan, have seen their share of transitions, from farmland transitions and suburban encroachment to changes in the local food and CSA marketplaces. Tom shares the story of how they’ve responded to these changes, and how rolling with the punches led him to think hard about how to right-size his farm and about his approach to his farm production systems. Along the way, Tom digs in to how he got his first lessons in organic farming from PBS, the parallels between farming and teaching, and some thoughts about evaluating success on the farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/kumpf.
75 minutes | Mar 22, 2018
163: Chandler Briggs of Hayshaker Farm on Farming with Horses in Walla Walla’s Wine Country
Chandler Briggs of Hayshaker Farm and his partner, Leila Schneider, make a living with about six acres of vegetables on the edge of Walla Walla, Washington. Now in their fourth season of production, Chandler and Leila do most of their farming with horses, and sell their produce through two farmers markets, restaurants, and a grocery store. Chandler takes us deep into farming with horses, including how he uses them on the farm, and how he learned to work with his horses and how they learned to work with him. We also discuss the tools he uses, how they fit into Hayshaker Farm’s fertility plan, and how the farm is set up to work with the horses. We also dig into marketing in Walla Walla, a relatively small market but one that is growing and changing as a wine industry develops in the valley, along with the accompanying tourist business and demographic changes. Chandler shares how they stand out at their farmers market, and how they’ve set up their market stand to maximize sales as they find their niche in this expanding marketplace. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/briggs.
80 minutes | Mar 15, 2018
162: Lorien Carsey and Shea Belahi of Blue Moon Farm on Farm Ownership Transitions, Farm-Life Balance, Complex Crop Rotations, and Custom-Packed CSA Shares
Lorien Carsey and Shea Belahi of Blue Moon Farm in Urbana, Illinois, raise vegetables for farmers market, restaurants, stores, and a CSA. With twenty acres dedicated to vegetable production, and ten high tunnels totaling just under half an acre of year-round production, Blue Moon Farm was founded in 1977 by John Cherniss and Michelle Wander, and now Lorien and Shea are in the process of taking over the ownership and management of the farm. We dig into how Lorien, Shea, John, and Michelle are managing the nuts and bolts of this ownership transition, including ownership structures, roles in the transition (and how they’ve figured those out), tackling farm-life balance, and the challenges of managing employees through this transition. We also discuss their homemade customized CSA program, which includes meat and eggs from other farms; a complex crop rotation that keeps ten acres of the farm in a combination of long- and short-term cover crops, and the ins and outs of managing a diversity of high tunnel sizes, shapes, and technologies. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/bluemoon.
95 minutes | Mar 8, 2018
161: Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm on No-Till Ecological Farming in Northern California
Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser raise a little under three acres of vegetables at Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, California, where they have been farming since 2007. Their ecological farming model rests on a foundation of no-till production, but incorporates many more elements to build soil organic matter and soil biology to support an economically viable operation. Elizabeth and Paul dig deep into the ecological and production principles that undergird their success, from soil management to transplant production and crop planning strategies. We take a look at their use of hedgerows for soil building, climate management, and insect management, including their tips for installing and maintaining these important ecological tools. And we discuss employee management within their complex, non-linear production system, as well as the economics of their production system. Perhaps most importantly, Paul and Elizabeth emphasize the ways that observation and their responses to their observations provided the foundation for building what they consider to be an example, and not a model, of their ecological production system. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/kaiser.
83 minutes | Mar 1, 2018
160: Stacey Carlberg and Casey Gustawarow of The Farm and Sunnyside on Managing a Farm instead of Owning, Conservation Efforts on the Farm, and Getting and Giving the Most with Employees
Stacey Carlberg and Casey Gustawarow manage The Farm at Sunnyside, with twelve acres of vegetables and eight of tree fruits in Rappahanock County, Virginia, about seventy miles from Washington, D.C. We dig into the ups and downs of managing other people’s farms, including why they’ve chosen to do it and how the farm owners set expectations and provide oversight. Stacey provides insights into how they manage the financial implications, and we look at some of the other goals of the property owners and how those fit – and don’t fit – with a vegetable-farming operation. Casey and Stacey share how they make the most of their spot at the high-quality, high-volume Dupont Circle Farmers Market in D.C., including strategies for standing out from the crowd, and how they manage their employees at the stand. We also talk about how Casey has worked to fit cover crops into the vegetable rotation, and how they have integrated laying hens into the cover crop rotation – including the steps they’ve taken to ensure the safety of their fresh produce in the face of nearby chicken poop. And Stacey and Casey share the steps they’ve taken to manage employees for year-over-year retention, from their overall staffing strategy to their day-to-day communications. Finally, we discuss their experience with Lyme disease among their crew, and the steps they take to try to reduce its incidence among their employees. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/sunnyside.
90 minutes | Feb 22, 2018
159: Anne and Eric Nordell of Beech Grove Farm on a Multi-Pronged Approach to Weed Control, Farming with Horses, and Designing a Farm
At Beech Grove Farm, Anne and Eric Nordell manage six-and-a-half acres for vegetable crop production, with half of that in cover crop, and half of that in vegetables. And they do it with horsepower, next-to-no hand-weeding, and no irrigation. Anne and Eric share their experience farming with horses, something that they’ve done since Beech Grove Farm’s start 35 years ago, and how they set the farm up from the start to be manageable for the two of them. We talk about their strategy for reducing weed pressure, including their reduced tillage system, and the year-on, year-off rotation of vegetables and cover crops that allows them to build soil while minimizing weed issues. We also dig into their low-input system for making compost, their low-input wood-fired greenhouse, and the changes they’ve seen in their rural community. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/nordell.
80 minutes | Feb 15, 2018
158: Angie Raines and Miles Okal on Rice, Dried Beans, and Diversified Vegetables on a Small Farm
Angie Raines and Miles Okal raise diversified vegetables, rice, and dry beans at South Wind Produce in Rougemont, North Carolina. With sales at five weekly farmers markets plus wholesale sales to restaurants, they have built a viable business in a short amount of time. Angie and Miles take us on a deep dive into their rice and dried bean production, as well as how they market these crops and how they fit into their farm economics and overall farm agroecosystem. We also explore how they stand out in the crowded marketplace of North Carolina’s “research triangle,” how getting the business started on an incubator farm let them establish a business with less up-front risk, and how they manage the potential chaos of five farmers markets a week on a small farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/southwind.
97 minutes | Feb 10, 2018
157: David Greenberg of Abundant Acres Farm on Investing in a Deep-Compost System, Radical Delegation, and Cooperative Direct Marketing
David Greenberg of Abundant Acres Farm raises about five acres of vegetables with his wife, Jen, in rural Nova Scotia, about an hour from Halifax. With four full-time employees in addition to David and Jen, Abundant Acres focuses on high-value crops, while also growing a bit of everything for their diversified market streams. David takes a deep dive into the cooperative direct-to-consumer marketing arrangement Abundant Acres has with a few select food producers in Halifax, including how they use that storefront to host the free-choice CSA. And David digs into how he and Jen manage inventory and supply for the off-farm free-choice CSA, including everything from record-keeping to how that informs their planting choices. Abundant Acres uses several different production systems, including tarped, deep-compost fields for high-value crop production, tractor-based row crop and plasticulture vegetables in rotation, mobile caterpillar tunnels, and heated greenhouse space. We take an especially in-depth look at the investment and returns on the deep-compost system, discuss the engineering behind the mobile caterpillar tunnels, and get some insights into the lessons-learned in the plasticulture system. According to David, the farm succeeds in large part because of its reliance on radical delegation to employees. We discuss how David and Jen set expectations, guide their workers, and give and get feedback to improve performance so that they can rely on employees to take leadership and responsibility for the production on the farm. Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America. Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/greenberg.
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