Blog posts tagged in farmer
Being the journeyman farmer at Hidden Villa, managing the CSA, and running the farmers market stand has been an incredibly valuable experience for me. I have learned far more about small farm management and nonprofit management in the past nine months than I could have imagined. I honestly feel that I now have the skills and knowledge to successfully manage a small farm.
We finished harvesting and boxing up the last of our potatoes on Friday. At Hidden Villa we using a digging bar on the back of a tractor to turn up the potatoes and then we easily dig through the already loosened soil by hand and pick up potatoes. It is still a lot of work to harvest 800 row feet of potatoes, especially since it was a dishearteningly light yield of around 500 pounds.
This week I am house sitting at a home that has a special perk: wireless Internet in the house! I have been saturating myself online, including some non productive catching up on friends’ latest photos, and some more productive perusing of websites of other small-scale farms. Last night I discovered a small farm in Vermont that offers a year round CSA, something I had not considered until then, especially for a farm in such a cold weather climate. Upon further investigation, I found that the farm employs people specifically to preserve the year’s harvest through canning and freezing. In this way they ensure that CSA members have access to farm raised food, year round. I was equally impressed and inspired, and started thinking more about successful marketing styles utilized by small farms.
So much of the motivation for farming the way that we do comes from a hope for a better future. Striving towards a means of producing food that is less resource intensive, more locally adapted, and respectful of ecology feels like an important route for agriculture to take. The most significant necessary ingredient in leading us to this kind of food future is a new population of willing and able farmers. We offer our agriculture interns an insight and a working experience operating this kind of farm in a way that is well-aligned with our mission of "inspiring a just and sustainable future." More people practicing small-scale, locally rooted agriculture is laying the groundwork for self-sufficient, environmentally friendly, localized community.
It was a beautiful and rare sunny day on the coast at Pie Ranch. Sitting on a straw bale and listening to the blue grass band strum away, I took in the scene. In the open valley below the eucalyptus grove, people in the crowd chatted, shook hands, and exchanged information. Others waited in line for the potluck, to slip enchiladas and homemade pie onto their plates. Some casually stopped at tables to try samples and pick up information about the showcased entrepreneurs. Farm Fest, an event organized by Slow Money, brought together food entrepreneurs and local investors. As the program started, people took their seats, eager to hear about the new businesses taking their place in the local food economy.
Hi CSA Members, Summer is finally here! I was looking forward to watching our summer crops come on, and long days of hiking and swimming. However, back in May I injured my knee. Being couch and crutch-ridden has forced me to slow down, and I’ve struggled to adjust to this change of pace. But there’s always a silver lining, right? As I heal, I’ve had time to work with other departments at Hidden Villa. (And I caught up on my reading. Seriously, ask me for suggestions.) As the sidelined Farm Crew member, I want to share what I’ve been working on in the past month or so.
At my Nana's 88th birthday celebration, last weekend, she received two touched up photos of her eighteen year old self that were taken shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed. One of the photos is a portrait of her sitting on an old, horse drawn, harvester and the other is a wider shot of her on what looks like a 1936 steel wheeled John Deer tractor, hitched to a trailer piled high with hay; included are two young farmhands, one standing in front of the trailer and another sitting on top of the hay. In both photos my Nana is fashionably clad in loafers.
It’s hard to compete with the Bay Area in terms of its foodie passion and support of locavore eating. Nonetheless, I find that people I meet from San Francisco or the Silicon Valley are still surprised to hear that I’m a farmer. I see a look in their eye that says, “Whoa… that’s crazy.” But the longer I farm, the more I wonder how much is wrong with our food system if people have never met a farmer. How much trouble are we in if people my age (27) haven’t heard of anyone choosing it as a career? Next time I get that look, I want to say, “Don’t you eat? How do you not know a farmer?"
Photo Credit: Laurie Aubuchon
On our field walk today we saw newly sprouted bush beans coming in healthily next to fifteen lines of hearty looking potato plants. At the same time our old strawberry patch is almost completely inundated with noxious bind weed and some of the tomatoes that we planted on Friday have already been eaten by voles. It also rained on us, which was both good and bad. Getting a little extra water helps our crops grow but it also made it so that we couldn’t get into the field to do some needed tractor work and planting. The rain will also increase the weed pressure on all our crops.
This is why I love small scale diversified organic farming. Everyday is a new and different challenge and I get to work outside with a small crew of good friends to grow some of the best food I have ever had in my life.
Everyone on the farm has a favorite cooking method or prized tips for turning dark, leafy kale, into a bowl of tender, tasty (and incredibly healthy) greens. This recipe combines the Farm Crew's favorite tips on how to make the perfect greens.
Don't forget that you can purchase fresh veggies, fruits, eggs, and meats from Hidden Villa's stall every week Los Altos Farmers' Market, held 4 to 8 pm every Thursday in downtown Los Altos.