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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: September, 2016
Sep 29, 2016

Brian Bates is a first-generation farmer at Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. He and his wife, Anne Morningstar, started farming in 2014, and have rapidly grown their business to anticipated 2016 sales of $180,000.

With just an acre and a half of cultivated ground, Bear Creek makes most of its money from greenhouse and high tunnel crops, and Brian breaks this down for us. We get an in-depth look at the tools Brian uses to track wholesale and retail sales, and to track those back to the enterprise they’re a part of – something that gives him insights into where he’s earning most of his returns, which in turn drives his business decision-making.

Bear Creek sells half of his produce wholesale, mostly to grocery stores, and Brian shares how his work in the back end of his local natural foods store informed the ways he has structured his production and marketing efforts.

We also explore how Brian and Anne financed the startup of their operation, and how they’ve used debt as a lever to both enable and drive the rapid growth of their operation.

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

Sep 22, 2016

Eric McClam and his dad, Robbie, own City Roots in Columbia, South Carolina. With eight acres of vegetables, mushrooms, u-pick berries, flowers, bees, agritourism, vermicomposting, and several high tunnels, City Roots is seven years into its operation and grosses about $650,000 annually.

We dig deeply into their operation and the relationship between Eric and Robbie, including how their different personalities have influenced the growth of the operation and the directions it has gone, as well as how they structure their communications and their relationship. We also explore how City Roots has leveraged marketing partners to extend their reach, how they manage so much diversity and three distinct production parcels, and their experience with no-till vegetables, organic certification, and GAPs audits.

City Roots has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2012 Green America’s People and Planet Award for Best Green Business, 2010 International Downtown Association Pinnacle Award, the 2010 Columbia Choice Award, the 2010-2013 Free Times Best of Columbia – Best New Green Business and the 2010 Farm City Award – Richland County, and 2015 Green Business of the Year award from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. After spending a couple of hours with them, I know why!

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

Sep 15, 2016

Lydia Ryall raises fifteen acres of vegetables at Cropthorne Farm, located on a small farming island where the Frasier river meets the Pacific ocean, just twelve miles outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. $600,000 of produce is marketed through three farmers markets and a CSA, as well as through wholesale accounts and a farmstand on the property.

A third-generation farmer (and maybe more), Lydia farms on a fifty-acre property owned by her family. In addition to her operation, family members raise flowers, grains, and eggs in two additional businesses operating on the same piece of land. Lydia also hires family members as part of her operation. We discuss the nitty-gritty of how they’ve made this work, including their experience bringing in outside help to work on the details of their business agreements and how they can better work together.

Named the British Columbia and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer for 2014 http://www.oyfbc.com/recipients.html, Lydia has operated her farm since 2009. Her depth of experience and business and horticultural acumen are apparent as we discuss the ways she has mitigated the heavy clay soils in her wet climate, the challenges and opportunities of the recent addition of migrant workers to her farm crew, the changes a new baby has brought to the farm and how she prepared to accommodate those changes, winter roots storage and ongoing harvest, the tools she uses to track harvest, packing, and sales, and more.

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

Sep 8, 2016

Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Aroostook County, Maine, is not just a potato farmer; he’s a potato artist. Wood Prairie Farm provides certified organic seed potatoes and other products to customers around the country through their mail order catalog. Certified organic since 1982, Wood Prairie Family Farm has 40 acres in production, with ten or twelve of those acres in seed potatoes each year.

After an orientation to the history of Wood Prairie Farm and the potato culture of Aroostook County, we dig into the whys and the how’s of growing a great crop of from seed warming and green sprouting through weed control to harvest. We also discuss the ins and outs of producing Maine-certified potato seed. Jim is an observant and specific farmer and marketer, and really brings out the details of what goes into bumper yields and high quality spuds.

Named by the editors of the Utne Reader to the magazine’s 2011 list of 25 “People Who Are Changing the World,” Jim is also one of those organic farmers who spends a large part of his time serving the community. Jim is the president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, and has served for more than twenty years on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association certification committee, along with about a dozen other roles that he has played in the organic farming movement.

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

Sep 1, 2016

Paul Underhill is a partner in Terra Firma Farm, where he manages crop production on 220 acres in the southern Sacramento Valley. Terra Firma Farm raises certified organic vegetables year-round, as well as fruit and nuts, which they sell through a 1200-member CSA in Sacramento, Davis, and San Francisco, as well as through retailers, wholesalers, and restaurant accounts.

Paul gives us a look into operating at scale, including the logistics of a thousand-member CSA. We also get a peek at the equipment he’s found useful at this scale, including a relatively inexpensive GPS system, multiple-bed equipment, and low-tech harvest tools.

Terra Firma Farm has been around since the 1980s, and Paul tells us about the many changes to California’s food and agriculture scene, and the impact those have had on Terra Firma’s employment practices, equipment-acquisition opportunities, CSA program, and food safety practices. Paul also shares the story of how he became a partner at Terra Firma Farm, and how they make their partnership work.

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

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