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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: February, 2016
Feb 25, 2016

Jane Hawley Stevens raises certified organic medicinal herbs on her farm in North Freedom, Wisconsin, and turns them into creams, lip balms, and salves  that are sold nationwide. With about five acres in production, Four Elements Herbals produces a wide variety of annual and perennial medicinals in the Baraboo Bluffs of Wisconsin.

We dig into medicinal herb production and post-harvest handling, meeting FDA regulations for processing and for selling herbal products, and how Jane has grown the Four Elements Herbal brand in the market place.

Four Elements Herbals recently used a Value-Added Producer Grant to support the expansion of their product line, which in turn drove significant growth in the business overall. Jane shares her experiences managing growth and moving into a national market, as well as how she has passed the field production torch to a new generation and the ways that her job has changed as her business has grown.

We also learn the meaning of the word, “garble.”

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

Feb 18, 2016

Erich Schultz owns and operates Steadfast Farm, a certified organic farm in the heart of a suburban community on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. With 3 acres of vegetables, over six acres of orchard, and a passel of livestock, Steadfast Farm is the neighborhood amenity in the Agritopia development – an alternative to the golf courses and swimming pools that often anchor suburban developments.

Steadfast Farm sells produce through restaurants in the neighborhood and around Phoenix, through a farmstand, at farmers markets, and through a CSA.

Farming in suburbia comes with its own challenges, as does farming in the desert Southwest, and Erich fills us on the ways he has made the most of both. We discuss how he’s leveraged his neighborhood for marketing, how he manages irrigation, the evolution of Steadfast Farm’s livestock rotation, and how he has moved away from the intensive mechanization he started with.

We also get into the details of the arrangement Erich has with the developers and owners of the farmland, and how the neighborhood has managed some of the complications of having an urban farm.

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

Feb 11, 2016

Patrice Gros farms on just a half an acre of beds in northern Arkansas without ever tilling the soil. And while it sounds like gardening, he’s definitely farming, grossing $80,000 a year from the crops he grows. Founded in 2006, Foundation Farm builds on ten years of experimentation with various methods for growing organic vegetables, and markets produce through farmers markets, retail stores, and a small CSA.

It’s worth noting that Patrice keeps a pretty sharp pencil, and rakes in a 70% profit margin doing all of his farming in just three mornings a week with a small crew. And I do want to emphasize, the no-till farming that Patrice does isn’t just an occasional no-till crop here and there. He doesn’t own a tractor or a tiller, and doesn’t even use a broadfork on his soils.

We dig in to – or rake in to – the details of how he manages his system, from scheduling and weed control to fertility management. Along the way, we explore how Patrice has planned his farming operation around his family’s needs, how he evaluates crop profitability, and his efforts to balance productivity and quality of life with his employees.

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

Feb 4, 2016

At Bluebird Gardens in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Mark Boen farms 320 acres with his wife, Diane, and a crew of ten employees. Starting with six acres in 1978 selling produce at a farmstand, they grew Bluebird Gardens to over 2,000 CSA members and 80 drop sites in far northwestern Minnesota and the Fargo/Moorhead metro

Mark is an enthusiastic farmer, and his zeal for the craft shows when he shares how he has transitioned the farm to include a year-on, year-off rotation of cover crops and vegetables. We get into the nuts and bolts of the Bluebird Gardens cover crop system, including the challenges, planning techniques, and the tools he’s using to establish and manage the cover crops.

Bluebird gardens is also in the midst of a marketing transition, and we delve into the changes Mark is making to make his food accessible to a wider swath of the population than just the customers who are able to make CSA work for their lifestyle. Plans include marketing Bluebird Gardens produce in local grocery stores and increasing agritourism opportunities.

We also get into some of the harvest mechanization Mark has used to manage so many vegetables with a small staff, as well as irrigation and crop planning.

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

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