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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: March, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Mike Bollinger raises about three acres of outdoor vegetables and a half acre under cover just inside the city limits of the small town of Decorah, Iowa, with his wife, Katie Prochaska. River Root Farm serves grocery stores and restaurants in its local market in Decorah, as well as in surrounding small cities and Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Enterprises at River Root Farm range from microgreens and transplants to fresh herbs and four-season salad greens.

Mike and Katie have worked hard to adapt to the marketplace in rural Northeast Iowa as they slowly laid the groundwork for their farm. They’ve found ways of making a living on the farm that didn’t put them into direct competition with an already crowded market farming scene in Northeast Iowa. We dig into how they’ve gone about testing markets and products to limit risk and maximize potential as they grew the business to a point where they could make the leap into both farming full time.

We dive deep into the details of how they’ve made the logistics work for co-shipping and cross-docking their product by adapting to the distribution system around them., discuss some of the finer points of producing transplants for sale to grocery stores and other retailers, and look at how River Root Farm harvests and handles their microgreens.

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

Mar 24, 2016

47th Avenue Farm’s Laura Masterson started her farm on a double lot in a residential neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, twenty years ago. The farm expanded to many different plots of land, then consolidated; now, Laura farms about 20 acres of vegetables on land on two main parcels in the Portland  suburbs, providing a year-round CSA to over 200 families and produce to restaurants in the Portland Metro area.

Laura’s commitment to the triple bottom line is apparent as we talk about Laura’s work in government and with non-profit organizations, her plantings of beneficial insect habitat on her farm, her weed control strategies, and record-keeping’s roll on her farm for making management decisions.

47th Avenue Farm was one of the first in the Portland area to move away from the internship labor model to providing full-time, year-round employment opportunities, and Laura goes in depth with how she has worked with her farm manager to create an open and encouraging work environment.

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

Mar 17, 2016

Curtis Stone raises $100,000 of vegetable on just a third of an acre at Green City Acres in Kelowna, British Columbia. He’s also the author of The Urban Farmer, an excellent text on growing food for profit on leased and borrowed land. Curtis came out of a career as a musician and tree planter to start his urban farming venture, and he’s adapted the lessons he learned on the road and in the mountains to his farming career.

Oh, and he actually shrunk his farm in order to make more money! By focusing on the Pareto Principle – also known as the 80-20 rule – Curtis puts his attention on the right customers, the right crops, and the right techniques to maximize the output and the profits from his tiny acreage.

Curtis shares his tips for controlling weeds before you plant a crop, capturing and organizing information effectively, marketing at farmers markets and to restaurants, and how to structure your farm to better serve yourself and your markets.

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

Mar 10, 2016

Dru Rivers began farming in 1983 with her partner, Paul Muller, in Northern California’s Capay Valley. Since that time, Full Belly Farm has grown to over 200 acres of vegetables, with still more acreage devoted to flowers, animals, fruits, nuts, and even grains. They’ve recently ventured into value-added products, as well. All of this is marketed to farmers markets, CSA customers, and wholesale customers in the Bay Area, Davis, and Sacramento.

Full Belly Farm has also grown in the number of people – and not just their intern program or their employees, although we dig into how Full Belly has created a renowned and very successful internship program and an environment that fosters fantastic employee retention. Full Belly’s ownership has also grown, with an early partnership with Judith Redmond and Andrew Brait, as well as a more recent expansion to include some of Dru and Paul’s children. Dru shares about why their partnership has worked, the return of all four of her children to the farm, managing a wide diversity of enterprises, and the renowned Hoes Down Harvest Festival.

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

Mar 3, 2016

Emily Oakley owns and operates Three Springs Farm in Oaks, Oklahoma, with her husband, Mike Appel. Since 2003, they’ve sold their organic vegetables through a CSA and at a farmers market. They’ve chosen to keep their farm small, not just in acres but also in overall production, substituting tractors and equipment for labor on their three acres of vegetable production where they gross about $80,000 per year, with a net of well over half of that.

We talk about their choice to limit their acres, their work hours, and their growing season, and get into the way that their farm changed when their child was born three years ago.

With its unpredictable weather and biblical pest outbreaks, Emily says that if you can farm in Oklahoma, you can farm anywhere, so we also dig into how Three Springs Farm manages uncertainty and risk both in the field and in its business management processes.

Emily was also recently appointed to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and she shares her perspective on organic certification and community service.

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

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