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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: April, 2016
Apr 28, 2016

Laura Frerichs owns and operates Loon Organics with her husband, Adam Cullip, in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Loon Organics grosses $200,000 on 8 acres of produce and 10,000 square feet of high tunnels, providing for a CSA, local retailers, farm-to-table restaurants, and the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis.  Six employees keep the farm humming and beautiful.

Laura and Adam started farming at their current location in 2009, after several years incubating at Gardens of Eagan in Farmington, Minnesota, and several years before that of working on farms of different scales around the country and the world. Laura shares her experience as an incubatee, including the investment and business growth strategies Loon Organics used to provide a running start once they landed on their own place.

Laura also shares her experience farming with children, and how that prompted her and Adam to invest in improving their quality of life by improving their utilization of employees. We dig into some of the practical aspects of employee delegation at all levels. We also talk marketing, electric tractors, post-harvest handling, and growing broccoli all year.

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

Apr 21, 2016

Rachel Armstrong founded the nonprofit Farm Commons, a legal resource for sustainability-minded farmers, in 2012. And Cassie Noltnerwyss owns Crossroads Community Farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. And they’ve both joined me for this episode to talk about the legal side of employees and other workers on the farm.

Rachel started her career working on farms and in community gardens before she transitioned into doing nonprofit and advocacy work for sustainable agriculture. She decided to go to law school when she realized that the resources didn’t exist to answer the kinds of questions small-scale and local growers were asking. Today, Farm Commons offers a variety of legal resources for farmers, from land use and business transfer to employment and contract law.

Cassie owns Crossroads Community Farm with her husband, Mike. They raise about 20 acres of vegetables, sold through a CSA, farmers market, and wholesale to grocery and restaurants in nearby Madison. Now in their twelfth year of business, Crossroads has up to ten full-time employees at the peak of the season. While Cassie doesn’t have any formal business or law training, she had learned a lot along the way as the business has developed and grown.

Together, Rachel and Cassie dig into the nitty-gritty parts of the legal side of having employees on the farm. We take a look at contractors versus employees, managing volunteers, workers compensation, minimum wage, overtime, navigating federal and state laws, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and more.


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

Apr 14, 2016

Brenton Johnson started growing vegetables in his backyard in Austin, and then his front yard, and then he started selling them, and then he moved to a larger acreage, and then to an even larger acreage at his current location fifteen miles east of Austin, Texas. Johnson’s Backyard Garden is a little bit bigger now, with 150 acres of vegetables and over 100 employees – and all of this since he first started selling vegetables in 2006.

Brenton shares the hows and whys of growing Johnson’s Backyard Garden, and we take a look at the organization behind his custom-box CSA, farmers market sales, and crop management, as well as irrigation and the use of storage facilities to extend the season into the hot Texas summer. Johnson’s Backyard Garden also has a reputation as a marketing powerhouse, and we get into how Brenton has built the JBG brand.

We also discuss Brenton’s approach to the entrepreneurial aspects of farming, and how Brenton has managed the fast pace of change in his business.


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

Apr 7, 2016

Eliot Coleman raises about an acre-and-a-half of vegetables in Harborside, Maine, with his wife, Barbara Damrosch. With over 40 years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, Eliot is widely recognized as a pioneer in the world of organic market farming, especially when it comes to producing crops year-round in the northern tier of the United States. He is the author of the bible of organic market farming, The New Organic Grower, as well as the Winter Harvest Handbook.

Eliot shares his farming history in this episode, including the ways that farming in Maine has influenced his approach to farming, and how trying to make Maine soil resemble Iowa soils has led him to develop the skills of observation that have served him so well in the development of his farm. Along the way, we get into picking rocks, marketing, plant-positive pest control, and Eliot’s views on organic hydroponics.

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

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