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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, 2017
Jun 29, 2017

Less than one percent of the people farming in Minnesota are Latino, and Eduardo Rivera is one of them. His operation, Sin Fronteras Farm & Food, specializes in producing fresh, healthy, Latino food for restaurants, grocery stores, and a 40-member CSA marketed to the Latino community in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

Eduardo started farming with his infant daughter on his back on a quarter acre of rented ground near Stillwater. The farm has grown to three acres of production, still on rented ground. We discuss Eduardo’s rigorous business planning process and the progress he has made towards his goals as he has financed his farm’s growth and development. Eduardo shares the challenges of piecing together infrastructure like greenhouses and cold storage in multiple locations due to Sin Frontera’s land tenure situation.

We also dig into the challenges and opportunities that Eduardo has found in marketing his produce, especially with regard to making it available through Latino markets in the Twin Cities. And Eduardo provides lots of great details about his cilantro and pepper production, his irrigation system, paying employees, and more.

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/rivera.

Jun 22, 2017

Chris Field farms fourteen acres of ground with his partner, Jessi Okamoto, at Campo Rosso Farm in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania. Camp Rosso Farm is what happens when two New York foodies decide to start a farm. Chis and Jessi grow a wide variety of very high quality Italian chicories – radicchios, endives, and more – as the cornerstone of their operation, and market through New York City’s Union Square Green Market and wholesale to restaurants in New York City.

We dig into how Chris and Jessi learned how to grow this challenging crop, and how they get compensated for the high labor inputs chicories require. And while we didn’t get into proprietary details of the more specialty varieties, Chris provides a primer on producing quality chicories for fall production, as well as insights on how they produce other high-end crops bursting with flavor.

Chris also provides insights into their marketing strategy, how he and Jessi jumped from city jobs into farming, and how he and Jessi are working to solve the challenges they’ve had sourcing labor for their young operation.

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/field.

Jun 15, 2017

In this episode, we revisit Jess and Brian Powers at Working Hands Farm, eighteen months after they were first on the show on Episode 040. Since the fall of 2015, Working Hands Farm has gone through some significant changes and phenomenal growth on their property in Hillsboro, Oregon, just outside of Portland on the north end of the Willamette Valley.

Jess and Brian have gone from raising four acres of vegetables in 2015 to eight acres now, and have expanded their on-farm CSA to cover 48 weeks of the year – all with just the two of them, plus the recent addition of a part-time employee. In the past year, they’ve gotten out of the livestock business to focus on their produce business, standardized their farming operations, and made significant investments in machinery and infrastructure on their farm. We dig into all of these changes and the rationale behind them, as well as how the changes are helping them to face the extreme wet-weather challenges they’ve faced this year.

When I interviewed Jess and Brian the first time, it was clear that although they were working insane hours, they found ways to emphasize and build their personal relationship, so we also come back to how they’ve continued to nurture their love for each other alongside of their professional and business development.

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/workinghands.

Jun 8, 2017

Danny Percich raises vegetables at Full Plate Farm in Ridgefield, Washington, for a ninety-member winter-only CSA. With three acres of mostly-outdoors production, Danny has decided to focus on an underserved niche in the marketplace, enabling him to make a living on a small acreage.

We get muddy discussing the challenges of winter production in a climate where it rains all winter. Danny gives us the low-down on how they manage deer predation and vole populations, as well as how he dresses to stay warm and dry no matter the weather.

Danny also provides insights into how he has minimized capital and labor inputs on his farm, and how that influences his farming schedule, as well as his cropping and production strategies.

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/percich.

Jun 1, 2017

Melanie and Kevin Cunningham own and operate Shakefork Community Farm in Humboldt County, California, where they raise five acres of vegetables and a diversity of livestock, including broilers, egg-layers, pigs, and sheep.. And they do it with oxen – as well as with four-wheeled and two-wheeled tractors. Since their start in 2008, the farm has evolved from an emphasis on small grains to a focus on vegetables and livestock, which they sell through their 120-member CSA and three farmers markets.

We take a deep dive into how they’ve integrated the oxen into their operation, including the why behind it and how they use draft power in ways and places where they feel tractor power and human power aren’t the best choices.

Kevin and Melanie dig into how they manage the complexity of their operation, including their introduction to Holistic Management and how they’ve used that to support their decision-making and to get on the same page from a relationship standpoint, as well as to help them do the caliber of work that they want to be doing. We discuss how they schedule multiple labor-intensive enterprises, and how they’ve divided responsibilities and how they coordinate between the different parts of the operation.

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/cunningham.

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