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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: June, 2016
Jun 30, 2016

Ali and Dan Haney own Shenandoah Seasonal, two-and-a-half acres of vegetables and 400 laying hens in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Now in their fifth year of running the farm, Ali and Dan sell their produce through three farmers markets and a modest CSA program.

Ali and Dan share their story, from their work as social workers in Cambodia to their struggles finding suitable land after moving back to Virginia. We dig into their salad production system, how they’ve developed an egg production system that really works, how Dan and Ali have made their investment decisions as the farm’s internal economics evolved, and the consequences of cutting off your dreadlocks.

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

Jun 23, 2016

Jen Campbell raises two acres of vegetables on Canada’s Prince Edward Island at Jen and Derek’s Organic Farm. She sells about $80,000 of certified organic vegetables per year primarily through a 90-member CSA, as well as to a retail store and a wholesale distributor.

Jen has been farming on Prince Edward Island since 2006, and she tells the story of growing her farm from a part-time operation to a full-time income. We talk about how she made the leap to full-time farming, including the decision she and Derek made to have Jen focus on the farm while Derek works off the farm. Jen also provides an honest look at her experience of having twins early in her full-time farming career, how she managed that in the early years, and the decisions she made around childcare and schooling.

Prince Edward Island is potato country, and Jen and Derek’s Organic Farm is located in one corner of a conventional potato farm. Jen shares the social and cultural strategies she follows to maintain the integrity of her organic crops, and how she fits into the community of conventional potato growers on the island. We also touch on her participation in a winter CSA program, including how to harvest roots on a small scale and the economics of winter storage, tractor farming on two acres, and how she’s adapted the food safety practices of her conventional, large-scale neighbors to her own operation.

Jen’s the real deal – I hope you enjoy getting to know her. I know I did.

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

Jun 16, 2016

Nate Parks raises twenty acres of vegetables at Silverthorn Farm in west-central Indiana, and sells his produce to restaurants, a custom-packed CSA program, and at an on-farm store.

We dig into the nuts and bolts of how Silverthorn Farm works, with particular attention to how Nate has used the scale of his operation to break into the restaurant market in Indianapolis. Nate also describes the system Silverthorn Farm uses to manage his unique on-line ordering system that allows members to pick what they want, when they want it. Nate also shines a light on the strategy he’s used to scale up and equip his farm, and how he’s leveraged employee involvement to do more with his farm than he could have done on his own – while creating a work environment with excellent retention.

Along the way, Nate shares the story of getting his start as a pumpkin farmer, losing everything in the housing crisis, and rebuilding the farm. It’s a touching and empowering story.

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

Jun 9, 2016

Janet Czarnecki raises five acres of vegetables, flowers, and fruit at Redwood Roots Farm on the northern California coast, just outside of Arcata. Almost all of her produce is sold through her CSA, with the remainder sold through her on-farm farmstand.

Janet shares how she has developed a year-round CSA farm serving 160 shareholders in the summer with pickup on the farm, and a u-pick winter CSA program that has her customers out in the mud harvesting their own vegetables in the mild but rainy coastal climate. Her summer CSA also includes a u-pick component, and Janet gets into the details of how that works, as well.

Janet puts significant effort into creating reciprocal relationships with her customers, her employees, and her community. We discuss how she has worked with her CSA members to finance the farm and infrastructure, how she uses a structured give-and-take with her employees to encourage them to engage in the farm, and how she manages a significant engagement with her local community through food banks and community education.

We also discuss how she manages a completely off-the-grid operation, her minimally mechanized production systems, and how she co-exists with the symphylans on her farm.

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

Jun 2, 2016

Allen Philo is the specialty crops consultant for Midwestern BioAg, a biological fertilizer company in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, where he works with fruit and vegetable growers around the country to help them develop approaches to optimizing soil conditions for plant growth. He also runs a pasture-based livestock farm north of Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

Allen was one of the first guests on the Farmer to Farmer Podcast, and I’ve had request after request to bring him back.

Allen digs into cover cropping, from the biology and theory behind it to the nuts and bolts about how to make it work on the farm. We discuss how cover crops work to get sugar-rich calories into the soil to feed the microbes, and how you can use cover crops to create microclimates to break down crop residues. Allen shares nuts-and-bolts details how he and his clients have used cover crops to disrupt pest cycles, reduce pest and disease pressure through rapid biological cycling, and control annual and perennial weeds.

We also discuss the tools and techniques that Allen recommends for managing cover crops, from establishing a strong stand to managing the resulting mass of vegetation. Cover crop selection, practical approaches to cover crop blends, and using cover crops to manage the pre-harvest interval for manure applications are also on the table.

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

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