Posts Tagged ‘Friends & Neighbors’

Thanks to Eddy Gilmore for visiting Stone’s Throw Farm last Sunday and writing about our little farming community in Wrenshall. On his blog, Ed’s Big Adventure, Eddy explains his services as a profiler of interesting people thusly:

What I bring to you is an innate ability to become intensely impassioned for your subject through the lens of a third party with keen observational skills. I am a great conversationalist, will travel out to your location, and will spend hours chatting with or about your subject. The point of this isn’t to merely glean facts, but to find footholds of interest for myself so I may write an engaging story.”

I found his statement to be true — I am not a good conversationalist but I enjoyed talking to Eddy, who seemed genuinely interested. Without taking notes, he got (almost!) all of the details I shared correct and wrote about his experience skillfully. Eddy was generous enough to share a copy of his memoir, The Emancipation of a Buried Man, which I very much look forward to reading — get your own copy here.

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Finally, we got some nice weather. We also got a gift of some hoof-in-the-bucket-type milk from my favorite dairy goat farmer — I figured the pigs would love it, and they didn’t disappoint me. In the 2nd clip, I started taping before I got to the pen because usually they’re excited to see me, and then done bouncing around by the time I get the camera out.

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Stone’s Throw Farm Pastured Pork is for sale now! The first four hogs will be ready on August 7, so order now and throw some pork chops on the grill in less than a month. All the details and the order form are online here. Anyone is welcome to order pork at this point.

Our neighbors, Adam and Jackie, have some pretty awesome masses of wildflowers blooming right along our property line right now, and our own driveway ditches are bursting with birdsfoot trefoil. It’s nice to have some other colors to go with all the green.

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Our spirits were pretty low yesterday morning at Stone’s Throw Farm — and in Duluth where Heather-Marie was stranded and Elden checked in for updates. We had received over 6 inches on Tuesday and overnight, and the rain kept coming — we got another couple of inches yesterday. The veggies were in standing water, and the pigs’ bedding was soaked. I dug a few little trenches to drain some of the standing water out of the veggies, even though I knew I was sending some of our precious topsoil into the ditch along with it — exactly what I don’t want to do.

My parents and I made some makeshift platforms to put under the pigs’ sleeping huts so their bedding might stay dry. As we were finishing up, my across-the-road neighbor Rick Dalen of Northern Harvest Farm came over to see if he could help. Rick took some photos of the flood, which you can see on the Northern Harvest blog.

The sun came out today and things already look better at the farm, though only time will tell. Farming is a risky business and it’s really wonderful to have our CSA members sharing the risk with us! If the carrots drown or the lettuce gets shredded, these brave people have agreed to eat beets and kale instead. Obviously, if we have too many failures, our members won’t want to renew, so it’s not like CSA farmers get a free pass. We do enjoy a little more security than market farmers, though, and with a diversity of veggies in the field, we hope that even if some crops fail, others will thrive and we’ll all eat well.

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I was excited to learn that my friend Karisa is apprenticing at Live Power Farm this season, because she’s an eloquent writer and a fantastic photographer (not to mention a great farmer) and I want to read and see more thoughtful, beautiful stuff about veggie farming at To Milk and Honey! Here’s her take on hakurei turnips — the kind of turnips Stone’s Throw Farm members received in their shares yesterday — and other “new” veggies. I wonder if Shungiku will grow here . . . .

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My friend Joan is a member of Bluebird Gardens CSA out of Fergus Falls, MN — about 60 miles away from Moorhead, where Joan currently resides. It was the closest to local she and her partner, Darryl, could find. Joan was here visiting a few weeks ago and generously brought along most of the week’s CSA share, which she made into a beautiful salad for our lunch at Stone’s Throw Farm.

Then I repaid her by putting her to work in the field. Even though Joan spent an hour helping me set up a bunch of drip irrigation, I made her water everything by hand with a watering can. Just kidding. Seriously, though, thanks for braving the sun and heat, Joan. We could sure use a little of both right now instead of never-ending rain!

Joan hadn’t tasted kale that she could recall, so we snagged a few leaves of Stone’s Throw Farm kale and collard greens and sautéed them in olive oil and garlic for dinner one evening. I’m happy to report that she seemed to enjoy both the kale and collards, but especially the kale. Our farm members will receive kale in their first share delivery on June 21, so I hope they like it as well as Joan did!

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We put the plastic on the hoophouse yesterday! Many thanks to the crew:  Dave Hanlon (holding Lila Dalen), Elden, Rick Dalen, Janaki Fisher-Merritt, Sara & Matt Weik, Karola Dalen, Tyreese, and Sampson The Dog. The process went really well, as far as I’m concerned. Elden and I rolled out the plastic and folded it in half to make a double-strength sheet 48′ x 50′, then tied 3 tennis balls onto the leading edge of the plastic and threw the ropes over the structure. When the crew arrived, we pulled the plastic over the top and everybody helped attach the sides and ends using a wirelock system. Piece of cake.

Karola photographed the whole process, lent a hand when needed, and watched Lila all at the same time — thanks!

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Kale seedlings


I seeded some tomatoes and peppers, celeriac, and brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale) on Wednesday, and already some seedlings are emerging. The brassicas germinate very quickly. I had some room left in the germination station after seeding the veggies, so I started some flowers, too — the marigolds greeted me this morning. Outside in the portable hoophouse, the onions and leeks have perked up after finally getting some real sunlight.

My friend Cree of Chelsea Morning Farm stopped by yesterday and seemed to think setting up the little hoophouse here was a good idea. Thanks for the encouragement, Cree! It was great to finally get a chance to chat. One of the many hats Cree wears is facilitator of our local Farm Beginnings program, which was very helpful to Elden and me as we made plans for Stone’s Throw Farm. If you’d like to support farmer education in this area, you can make a contribution to the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association. Thank you!

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Lately it seems that every time I turn around I’m reminded of my time at Caretaker Farm in 2007. This morning I found an article posted last week on the College News blog by a Williams College student about local farmers withstanding the economic storm. One of the interviewees was my mentor, Don:

Caretaker Farm in Williamstown, Mass., has built a strong relationship with Williams College. Don Zasada, the farm’s owner, said, “We receive (Williams College’s) food scraps to add to our composting system.  The economic downturn has not had an impact on this. They have been very committed to bringing us their food scraps.”

What’s more, personal values about environmental stewardship, human rights, and animal rights aspect motivate people to make long-term commitments to locally grown food; such values—so fundamental to people’s worldview—remain intact despite economic changes.

Zasada said that a CSA enables consumers to “understand how the land and the workers were treated on the farm.”

Check out the article for more on the benefits of “close connection between consumer and food,” and remember, college students:  thanks for the compost, but please don’t throw your silverware into the bin. “Fork weeds,” as we called them, turn up in the veggie fields by the dozens.

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Another pick-me-up

Ellen made these flags for my cabin at Caretaker.

I just got a phone call from my friend Ellen Poggi, a superwoman who has been farming on her own in New York for going on three seasons after apprenticing with me and Becky (the milking queen, and an awesome farmer in her own right) at Caretaker Farm in 2007. Whenever anyone expresses doubt about my plans for this season, I remind myself that Ellen did it and I can, too. She’s 10 years younger than me, but she’s way ahead of me, farming-wise.

Thanks for being an inspiration, Ellen!

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