January 31, 2017
What is in the VEGGIE BOX Salad Mix with Escarole, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Tangelos, Fennel and Parsley
What is in the FRUIT BOX? Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruit and Mandarins
This Week on the Farm
Hi Gang, Ali here! Thought I would jump in to give a new perspective of the goings on around here.
Last Wednesday my mom and I went down to the 37th Annual Ecological farming Conference. It was a gathering of about 1,400 farmers from California and beyond. We spent three days listening to speakers touch on all aspects of organic farming, new challenges, old challenges, and everything in between. As an aspiring farmer, this environment was incredibly exciting. To see such an large group of people working towards the same or similar goals as you, with the same ideals and dreams, the same obstacles, fears, and problems. It was a bit of an awakening.
Some of the farmers went the extra mile and were presenters, which meant they took time to come and share their knowledge with an entire group of people. The talk that I enjoyed the most was actually about CSA’s. It was a group of farmers who all had CSA programs around California, and we went around the room and stated how many members each farm had, and what some of the challenges that the program was facing. Again, this was an act of bringing us all together, and feeling a little less isolated. This sharing and giving mentality is a bit of a contrast to my time spent on the east coast which gave me a perspective on business that is very different. East coast, and especially New York, is a very competitive place, to survive people in business are less willing to share, connect, and work together with those that would be their competition. Because how can you be successful if your competition knows your secrets. The conference really showed me the strength in getting away from that idea, and delving into your community to find your success. One woman mentioned that she describes her relationship to her CSA members as people investing in the farm, and getting free food as reward. What an interesting perspective, not a supply and demand situation, but the literal sense of Community Supported Agriculture. I have said CSA 8 bajillion times and never came to that conclusion.
Ultimately, those three days provided me with tons of new information, and goals, and ideas, and hopes for our little farm, but more than anything, I feel like it opened up the farming community to me. Which sort of feels like coming into the sunshine. Thanks and have a great week! Ali
I have to add to this-I have not been to Eco Farm for four years, so it was exciting to go again with Ali. I was looking forward to introducing her to our community of farmers and friends, and also to have someone to go with to enliven my own experience (I know selfish of me). We tried to split up workshops that we went to-to be able to double the amount of information gathering we did, and that worked. I usually always go to the CSA workshops, and was happy Ali was interested to go, so I could check out the History of Japanese Farmers during the war-very interesting stories that are not told in our history books.
But what really impressed me about this time with Ali is her savvy-ness about business. In the tent where all the companies are showcasing their products, she made a B-line for the corner where there was computer and software programs for farms-being able to track bunches of carrots picked and the cost of that bunch of carrots. I am not really sure what the programs will do-certainly more than Jeff or I are even aware possible, but Ali was right there, and ready to make changes so she can know what crop is economical to grow, and which one is what they call the lost leader. She asked why we need to plant 4 different varieties of eggplant (we had just flatted up 11 flats of eggplant before leaving for the conference). I had a pretty weak answer-“because they are really beautiful when you put four different colors and shapes of eggplant on display at the market and it increases sales”. It is sometimes hard to answer questions that we really have not asked ourselves in years yet I find it invigorating to think & talk it out with her.
That came out in many ways during the weekend, her East Coast perspective, her interest in business, software programs (that she will need to work hard to pass by the head guy in accounting-Jeff), and how she presents herself to people. I have not been around Ali for a long time, certainly not as an adult navigating in the adult world, and it was a pleasure to watch her work. It seems that this younger generation is certainly much wiser than I at her age, she is a woman that I will go to for consulting, and as far as I can see she is not afraid to tackle a problem that sure is insurmountable in my mind. We had a great time; it was fun to be away from the farm, at the beach, and with friends. Now back to work, to see how much we can bring this knowledge back to the farm and incorporate into this seasons work. I was on a seed search, and want to cooperate with our local farms- to share our own farm grown seed with each other-it just makes sense to use local seed. Have a great week~Annie