At Beech Grove Farm, Anne and Eric Nordell manage six-and-a-half acres for vegetable crop production, with half of that in cover crop, and half of that in vegetables. And they do it with horsepower, next-to-no hand-weeding, and no irrigation.
Anne and Eric share their experience farming with horses, something that they’ve done since Beech Grove Farm’s start 35 years ago, and how they set the farm up from the start to be manageable for the two of them. We talk about their strategy for reducing weed pressure, including their reduced tillage system, and the year-on, year-off rotation of vegetables and cover crops that allows them to build soil while minimizing weed issues.
We also dig into their low-input system for making compost, their low-input wood-fired greenhouse, and the changes they’ve seen in their rural community.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/nordell.
Angie Raines and Miles Okal raise diversified vegetables, rice, and dry beans at South Wind Produce in Rougemont, North Carolina. With sales at five weekly farmers markets plus wholesale sales to restaurants, they have built a viable business in a short amount of time.
Angie and Miles take us on a deep dive into their rice and dried bean production, as well as how they market these crops and how they fit into their farm economics and overall farm agroecosystem.
We also explore how they stand out in the crowded marketplace of North Carolina’s “research triangle,” how getting the business started on an incubator farm let them establish a business with less up-front risk, and how they manage the potential chaos of five farmers markets a week on a small farm.
Perennial support for the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously provided by Vermont Compost Company.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/southwind.
David Greenberg of Abundant Acres Farm raises about five acres of vegetables with his wife, Jen, in rural Nova Scotia, about an hour from Halifax. With four full-time employees in addition to David and Jen, Abundant Acres focuses on high-value crops, while also growing a bit of everything for their diversified market streams.
David takes a deep dive into the cooperative direct-to-consumer marketing arrangement Abundant Acres has with a few select food producers in Halifax, including how they use that storefront to host the free-choice CSA. And David digs into how he and Jen manage inventory and supply for the off-farm free-choice CSA, including everything from record-keeping to how that informs their planting choices.
Abundant Acres uses several different production systems, including tarped, deep-compost fields for high-value crop production, tractor-based row crop and plasticulture vegetables in rotation, mobile caterpillar tunnels, and heated greenhouse space. We take an especially in-depth look at the investment and returns on the deep-compost system, discuss the engineering behind the mobile caterpillar tunnels, and get some insights into the lessons-learned in the plasticulture system.
According to David, the farm succeeds in large part because of its reliance on radical delegation to employees. We discuss how David and Jen set expectations, guide their workers, and give and get feedback to improve performance so that they can rely on employees to take leadership and responsibility for the production on the farm.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/greenberg.
After starting out in 2008 on a homestead in the country that grew to a market and livestock farm on several different parcels, my guest Steven Beltram and his wife Becca Nestler moved Balsam Gardens to two large parcels right in the city of Asheville, North Carolina. They now farm on 30 acres of certified organic ground, selling their product to wholesale distributors.
Steven digs into how he has developed a large, efficient farm without any infrastructure. At Balsam Gardens, the crew field packs all of the crops, and Steven explains how they do this in a way that has helped them pass their GAPs audit while maintaining good quality. We also discuss Balsam Gardens’ plasticulture system, including how they manage weeds between the plastic-covered beds. And, Steven shares how they have worked to structure their crops and their labor pool to maximize their efficiency.
Pictures, show links, and more at farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/beltram.