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Farmer to Farmer with Chris Blanchard

The organic and sustainable farming movement has its roots in sharing information about production techniques, marketing, and the rewards and challenges of the farming life. Join veteran farmer, consultant, and farm educator Chris Blanchard for down-to-earth conversations with experienced farmers - and the occasional non-farmer - about everything from soil fertility and record-keeping to getting your crops to market without making yourself crazy. Whether his guests are discussing employment philosophy or the best techniques for cultivating carrots, Chris draws on over 25 years of experience to get at the big ideas and practical details that make a difference on their farms and in their lives. If you've been farming for a lifetime, are just getting started, or are still dreaming about your farm of the future, the Farmer to Farmer podcast provides a fresh and honest look at what it takes to make your farm work.
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Now displaying: January, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

John Biernbaum is a professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University. He has spent most of his career working with farmers to develop practical solutions to the challenges faced by small-scale organic farmers, with research into high tunnels, compost production, organic transplants, intensive vegetable production, and organic soil management.

We dig into the economics and practicalities of worm compost, including methods for low-input, low-energy worm composting through the winter. And we take a look at how farmers can do a better job of transplant production by optimizing the greenhouse environment and developing a transplant production action plan.

I’ve worked with John in a variety of capacities for about fifteen years now, and I am always impressed with the practical, farmer-focused approach he takes to research and teaching.

The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.

Jan 21, 2016

Dan Brisebois was a founding member of Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, begun in 2004. Located just outside of Montreal, Quebec, Tourne-Sol is an employee-owned cooperative with five members, engaged in about seven acres of vegetable and vegetable seed production.

Dan provides an eye-opening discussion of his experience as part of a cooperative farming venture, including their use of Holistic Management to guide decision-making with regards to both profitability and quality of life. We dig into some of the logistical details of how the Tourne-Sol farmers plan their business and divide responsibilities, as well as how they make operational decisions together and how they assign leadership responsibilities. And, Dan lets us in on the ways that being part of a co-op allows them to work less than many of the farmers  they know, both day-to-day and seasonally.

Dan manages garlic and seed production at Tourne Sol, and we discuss the details of seed selection and processing, as well as the planning and cropping adjustments that seed production requires. We also spend some time discussing crop planning on the vegetable farm, as Dan is a co-author of Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers.

The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.

Jan 14, 2016

Mark Shepard’s New Forest Farm, in Viola, Wisconsin, isn’t your average farm. After twenty-one years of an intentional conversion from 106 acres of corn, beans, and overgrazed pasture to a chestnut, hazelnut, and apple mimic of the oak savannah, New Forest Farm presents an alternative to just about every way of thinking about agriculture that you’ll find out there. Mark, the author of Restoration Agriculture, is not just a nuts and fruits guy: he used the cash flow from his low-input vegetable operation to boot strap his longer-term plantings.

In addition to getting into some of the basics of Mark’s approach to creating a permanent agriculture, we dig into his personal history, how he came to his farm in southwest Wisconsin, issues of scale and finance, and how Mark managed his vegetable operation during the startup of his perennial polyculture. We also spend some time talking about how to take some of Mark’s ideas and apply them to a more conventional market farming setup.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with Mark in various capacities for over fifteen years now, and I’ve been to his farm a few times over the years, and I can tell you, it’s a pretty cool place. And Mark’s got some ways of looking at things that will likely challenge at least a few of the ways you’re looking at your farm and the whole farm and food system.

The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.

Jan 7, 2016

Boggy Creek Farm got it its start in 1991 selling produce at a farm stand in Austin, Texas – and to the original Whole Foods Market, which also there in Austin. Now with two farms – one in Gause, a little over an hour outside of Austin, and one just 2.5 miles from the state capital in the heart of Austin – my guest, Carol Ann Sayle, and her husband and farming partner, Larry Butler, sell their fresh produce and value added products – including smoke-dried tomatoes that have had my mouth watering since I first read about them in a Growing for Market article many, many years ago – at the farm stand on their farm in Austin. Carol Ann shares the story of Boggy Creek Farm’s start, how she and Larry manage the challenges and reap the rewards of having two farms over an hour apart, pricing strategies, and the nitty gritty of growing year-round in Texas.

The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.

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