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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, 2017
Mar 30, 2017

Landis and Steven Spickerman own and operate Hermit Creek Farm 15 miles south of Lake Superior in far northern Wisconsin – a challenging place to farm, with lots of woods and a lot of water. With about ten acres in vegetables and another six in cover crop, Landis and Steven sell their produce through a combination of wholesale and a 200-member CSA.

We discuss their long, slow, roundabout journey through homesteading and small-scale production to having Landis full-time on the farm. Landis and Steven share how they made the decision to acquire new land a few miles from their home farm, and the challenges they experienced in making the change from growing on one small piece of land to growing on two very different pieces of farmland with two very different farming systems.

Landis and Steven also share the whys and hows of expanding to a larger marketplace, and how that drove their pursuit of scale. We also dive into how they’ve expanded their CSA through the expansion of seasons and products, rather than raw member numbers.

Hermit Creek Farm has integrated hogs and now sheep into their vegetable and cover crop rotations, and use native prairie strips for pollinator and biodiversity inoculation in the vegetable fields. Landis and Steven share details about how they make this work, and why it matters to them and to the farm overall.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/spickerman.

Mar 23, 2017

Rashid Nuri is the founder and CEO of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture in Atlanta, Georgia.  With four farm sites in Metro Atlanta, Truly Living Well is a leader in demonstrating urban agriculture as a sustainable solution for helping people to eat better and live better.

Rashid shares his journey through the conventional agricultural system, including time spent working for Cargill and as a Clinton appointee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to becoming an organic urban farmer. Along the way, he shares his insights into food systems, and how Truly Living Well uses fresh food and crops to enrich lives and build communities.

We also dig into the systems Rashid has developed for effective urban farming, whether he is growing in boxes on top of concrete or in the soil. Rashid also shares the simple but effective composting and fertility system Truly Living Well uses to create healthy crops that allow them to grow without the use of pesticides.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/nuri.

Mar 16, 2017

Jean-Paul Courtens is most famous for being the founder and owner of Roxbury Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. He operated Roxbury Farm with his farming partner, Jody Bolluyt, from 1990 through about 2015, when he started work with the Hudson Valley Farm Hub to create and then to run a professional farmer training program, where he is now the Associate Director for Farm Training.

Roxbury Farm is a 245-acre integrated farming operation, with a hundred acres dedicated to vegetable production for a thousand-member CSA. Jean-Paul shares the details of Roxbury’s green manure rotation, and the details how they use unique crops, careful scheduling, and a summer-fallow period to clean the fields of weeds and pathogens, allowing for more efficient field operations. We also discuss the details of the semi-permanent bed system that complements the soil building cover cropping program.

Jean-Paul’s success as a farmer and his distinctive leadership builds upon the recognition of his skills as a teacher and mentor on organic practices, land stewardship, whole farm planning, and farm business development, and we discuss how he brings this to bear in the ProFarmer training program at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub.

Jean-Paul also shares some of the techniques used at Roxbury Farm to train employees and establish expectations, as well as to help people avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/courtens.

Mar 9, 2017

Andrew Mefferd farms at One Drop Farm in Cornville, Maine, with his wife, Ann, where they sell produce and transplants at farmers market, to a multiple farm CSA, and to local restaurants and food stores. Andrew is also the editor and publisher of Growing for Market, having taken over that business from Lynn Byczynski last year – the magazine’s 25th year in publication.

Andrew is also the author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook, a fantastic new guide to growing things in protected culture. This is a really cool book, short on rah-rah and long on real how-to, and Andrew really lets his plant-nerd flag fly. Much our conversation focused on the lessons that Andrew took from his experience working with large-scale greenhouse growers as the tomato trials guy at Johnny’s Selected Seeds and applied to his own high tunnel operation.

We talk extensively about how to take on some advanced greenhouse growing techniques, without getting too deep into the weeds. Andrew digs into his opinions about the return on investment for increased management in the greenhouse. And he provides some practical tips for extending spring production in the high tunnel, as well as for growing transplants for protected culture.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/mefferd.

Mar 2, 2017

Michael Phillips raises about three acres of fruit trees at Lost Nation Orchard in extreme northern New Hampshire. And while that’s pretty cool, and while Michael is well known for his books on organic orcharding, today we dig into the subject of his new book, Mycorrhizal Planet.

Michael started his orchard on imperfect apple ground, something that forced him – or gave him the opportunity – to figure out what he needed to do to make his apple trees tick. And that led him to the fungal relationships between trees and soil organisms that transfer information, nutrients, and water not just to individual plants, but through a field or plant population. In addition, mycorrhizae induce a systemic resistance to pests in the plants.

We dig into how this amazing fungal network works, and how you can enhance and preserve its functioning in the orchard and in the vegetable field. Michael provides background information and practical tips on how to maintain and enhance mycorrhizal populations even when we have to till the soil, as well as how to make and use your own mycorrhizal inoculant for transplants and seeds.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/phillips.

Mar 2, 2017

Michael Phillips raises about three acres of fruit trees at Lost Nation Orchard in extreme northern New Hampshire. And while that’s pretty cool, and while Michael is well known for his books on organic orcharding, today we dig into the subject of his new book, Mycorrhizal Planet.

Michael started his orchard on imperfect apple ground, something that forced him – or gave him the opportunity – to figure out what he needed to do to make his apple trees tick. And that led him to the fungal relationships between trees and soil organisms that transfer information, nutrients, and water not just to individual plants, but through a field or plant population. In addition, mycorrhizae induce a systemic resistance to pests in the plants.

We dig into how this amazing fungal network works, and how you can enhance and preserve its functioning in the orchard and in the vegetable field. Michael provides background information and practical tips on how to maintain and enhance mycorrhizal populations even when we have to till the soil, as well as how to make and use your own mycorrhizal inoculant for transplants and seeds.

Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company and BCS America.

Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/phillips.

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