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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: December, 2016
Dec 29, 2016

Chris McGuire and his wife, Juli, own and operate Two Onion Farm in Belmont, Wisconsin. With four acres of vegetables and ¾ of an acre of apples – all certified organic – Two Onion Farm is packing 300 CSA shares each week for delivery in Madison, Wisconsin, Dubuque, Iowa, and Galena, Illinois.

Chris digs into the details of weed control without tractors on Two Onion Farm, with an emphasis on prevention and reducing the bank of weed seeds in the soil. We also explore details of the farm’s use of drip irrigation to make the most of a limited water supply.

We talk extensively about Two Onion Farm’s organic apple production, including how they manage that alongside of the vegetables and incorporate it into the marketing for their CSA shares.

Chris also gets into the ways that Two Onion Farm has managed their worker-share program, and how that has changed over the years as their employee management has gotten better. And given that they’ve improved their employee management, Chris talks about how he has improved their hiring process and employee engagement.

We also hear about Two Onion Farms’ new transplant-production greenhouse, and the energy savings and automation features they included when it was constructed last year.

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

Dec 22, 2016

Mike Nolan raises about five acres of vegetables at Mountain Roots Produce in Mancos, Colorado. With a focus on storage crops, Mike has patched together a market in his rural marketplace that includes restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and CSA members in the Four Corners area of Colorado. Farming in Mancos for the last seven years, Mike has recently brought Mountain Roots into profitability, and no longer has to work off the farm to make ends meet.

We dig into the details of Mike’s operation, including how he has structured his tractor-scale farming operation for growing crops that are planted a limited number of times every year, and why he decided to start farming with a business model based on these limited-succession crops. Mike shares his challenges with weed control, how he’s used local resources to store his root crops with limited capital investment, and the changes he is making to prepare for the new marketing realities he expects as the Food Safety Modernization Act begins to take effect.

Mike also gives us an overview of water rights in the West, and how that influences the structure of his farming operation. Plus, Mike and his girlfriend, Mindy Perkovich of Early Bird Gardens, recently joined forces in Mancos, and Mike shares the details and realities of making the transition from a solo operator to being part of a partnership.

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

Dec 15, 2016

Eva Rehak and Rebekah Frazer Chiasson are members of Coin Bio – that’s Organic Corner in English – a small marketing co-op at the Dieppe Farmers Market in Dieppe, New Brunswick. With a total of four farms, the Organic Corner co-op allows these farmers to show up at market with the greatest diversity of produce in southeastern New Brunswick.

Eva and Rebekah share the details of how they make the co-op work, including how they decide who sells what and how they structure the finances to keep the cooperative operating and vital. We also dig into how they resolve and avoid conflict within the venture, and the attitude and approach that make Organic Corner a positive experience for farmers and customers alike.

We also discuss the realities of raising families on the farm, and the political activism they’ve participated in around childcare subsidies in New Brunswick.

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

Dec 8, 2016

Diane Szukovathy raises about 4.5 acres of cut flowers at Jello Mold Farm in Mount Vernon, Washington. Now in their eleventh year of selling flowers, Diane and Dennis Westphall have become cornerstones of the local flower movement in the Pacific Northwest.

Diane cofounded the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market when she realized the need to expand her farm’s reach without putting more hours into marketing and distribution. We discuss the establishment of the cooperative and its journey to self-sufficiency, including details about how the cooperative has brought on staff and set standards for its growers.

Diane also digs into the details of producing cut flowers at Jello Mold Farm, where she and Dennis manage annual and perennial flower and foliage crops. She shares her techniques and perspective on weed management and pest control, and gets into the nitty gritty details of how they produce top quality cut flowers – including an excellent tutorial on cleaning buckets and totes. We also talk season extension in the high tunnel, and forcing woody crops to flower in order to have products to sell in January.

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

Dec 1, 2016

Michael Ableman splits his time between his family’s Foxglove Farm on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island and SOLEfood, an urban farm on the downtown east side of Vancouver, British Columbia. Michael has been farming full-time since 1976, starting as an orchardist and evolving into a wide range of vegetables, fruits, grains, dry beans, and livestock. An early pioneer in the urban agriculture movement, Michael has long focused on the creation of good jobs and production quantities of food.

We dig into the production systems that Michael developed at SOLEfood to allow that 4.5 acre urban farm to meet the challenges of growing in an urban environment, including how they farm on top of pavement and how they mitigate the risks of uncertain land tenure. In addition to producing $350,000 in food each year, SOLEfood provides employment to individuals who struggle with poverty and addiction, and Michael shares his perspective on managing labor under challenges circumstances.

Michael’s 120-acre farm on Salt Spring Island includes 30 acres of hay and grain and six acres of fruits and vegetables, marketed on the island and via the ferry into Vancouver. Michael shares details about marketing in the two very different marketplaces, and we get a good look at his white asparagus production as well.

We also get to hear about Michael’s experience with global agriculture in the 1980s, and how that’s influenced his approach to farming in North America.

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

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