Sauvie Island Organics started in 1993 with one small acre and two hard working women. We sold our vegetables at the Portland Farmers Market and to three area restaurants. As our experience grew so did the demand for locally grown produce. In 1996 we expanded to three acres, bought our first tractor and incorporated a 30 member CSA into our marketing mix. Today we grow on 25 acres, employ dozens of hard working crew members and own 4 tractors. We nourish hundreds of households through our CSA program, deliver to dozens of area restaurants and several college campuses and in the winter can be found at the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market.
Erich McEnroe from McEnroe Organic Farm joins me on this episode of JACKS FARM RADIO.
In their words:
Farming over 1000 acres in the Harlem Valley, New York, McEnroe Organic Farm is committed to organic and sustainable agriculture.
The farm produces certified organic produce, meats and garden transplants. Our compost and soilis approved for organic production and available in bulk, wholesale, and retail.
Our Farm Market carries farm grown meats and produce, a wide selection of organic and specialty groceries, prepared foods, and fresh baked goods. We offer daily lunch specials, and catering for events large and small.
In the Nursery you’ll find a full range of annuals and perennials for your edible and decorative gardening and landscaping.
Our Education Program promotes an awareness from field to fork by using the farm as a classroom.
In 1986 Terry Brett was running a humble farm store in Chester County, Pennsylvania, selling organic yogurt made on-site at a biodynamic dairy farm, now known as Seven Stars Farm. During the ensuing 27 years he has grown that store into a group of natural grocery stores that actively reflect his commitment to local farming and his prioritization of organic and fair food. Kimberton Whole Foods is now a multigenerational family business and continues to grow while maintaining a passionate commitment to integrity and sustainability in agriculture. True friends of the farmer, KWF is regularly honored for our ethical business leadership and meaningful contribution to regional sustainable agriculture.
One Straw Farm is the largest Food Alliance Certified vegetable farm in Maryland. Lovingly tended by Drew and Joan Norman since 1983, One Straw Farm supplies families, restaurants and wholesalers with the finest certified produce. The goal of farming is more than simply growing a satiable crop, but also the responsibility of safeguarding the integrity of the land we cultivate. Each week we promise thew provision of sustainable produce with a responsible ecological footprint. We extend our value base into the creation of a strong relationship with our market customers and our members through interaction and communication on a daily basis. From our family to yours, we invite you to enjoy our gorgeous home-grown vegetables either through our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, the following farmers markets:
Kevin Folta from The University of Florida joins me on JFR this episode. Kevin is an expert on GMO in food production.
Here’s how he describes himself:
I’m a plant biologist. My job is to contribute to the understanding of gene function, then use this knowledge to inform crop improvement. In the long run I hope to guide the development of better plants that produce more nutritious food and with less environmental impact. Undergraduate and public education are a huge part of my program. If we are going to feed the world and save the planet it is going to require bold new technologies and we will need their support. Many fear technology when applied to food, and the skepticism is healthy. However, a dose of unfounded fear is hampering productive progress in adoption of these safe technologies. I hope to use science and evidence to win the hearts and minds of those that are uncertain of the scientific interface with food.
John and Amy Good of Quiet Creek Farm are a true organic farming success story. I talked with John recently and he shared his enthusiasm and true deliberate journey in farming. John is an articulate guy and this is a really good story. Listen!
Spiral Path Farm, owned and operated by Mike and Terra Brownback is a 200 acre plus USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm in central Pennsylvania. The Brownbacks recently erected 4 acres of high tunnels on a separate piece of property.
As with every operation I’ve talked with both large and small with Spiral Path it’s all about family. These are forward thinking folks that exude passion for growing vegetable organically. Very good business people, the Brownbacks have evolved Spiral Path into an extremely large and successful vegetable farm.
Spiral Path markets about half of their produce through a CSA concept. The rest of their production is sold via wholesale channels. They started their CSA in 1994.
This is a discussion with two pioneers in the organic vegetable industry who are committed to excellence.
You’ll learn a lot from this one.
George Brittenburg from Taproot Farm joins me in this episode.
Tap root is an 11 acre mixed vegetable and egg farm. He’s a thought full guy who’s built experience over time in different farm settings. George, his wife and kids live at this leased farm and you’ll hear an interesting story on how they found the property.
We kibitz about the nuts and bolts of farming including cover crops, raising egg layers, some economics, labor and more. This one’s pretty good. I pushed him pretty hard with the questions. Thanks George!
Mary Seton Corboy is a true pioneer in the Urban farming movement.
She’s charming as well…
In this episode we get a glimpse of how she and a partner started Greensgrow Farms in Kensington, PA. Kensington is is right off of I-95; something like a mile or 2 from downtown Philadelphia. Greensgrow has grown from scratch. She shares the Greensgrow story and its evolution. From finding abandoned land and the politics behind to it’s current iteration. Greensgrow is something more than and different than a traditional urban farm.
The concept of urban farming isn’t new. There are multiple examples of Urban farming in virtually every city in the United Sates. Greensgrow Farms was one of the first to experiment with this concept.
Urban farming promotes healthy communities and provides food security for many low income persons. In an urban setting, community gardens are part of the open space network. The gardens and those who participate in urban farming contribute to the preservation of open space, provide access to it, and create sustainable uses of the space. The idea is to strengthen community bonds, provide food, and create recreational and therapeutic opportunities for a community. They can also promote environmental awareness and provide community education.
Greensgrow is a not for profit enterprise. They use the non profit model to help experiment with some inner city food programs.
Once you talk with Mary you’ll fall in love.
Hope you enjoy this one.
Recently I traveled to State College, Pa for a visit with Brian Snyder. Brian is the Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture. This “trade association”, focuses on education and advocacy. PASA represents the local, sustainable agricultural movement. It is probably the strongest and largest group of it’s sort in the United States. It is unique because it is primarily funded through member support.
Brian is the driving force behind this organization. He has a thoughtful approach to his points a view. He wields much influence within Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, the Mid- Atlantic and beyond. I consider it an honor that he took time to talk with me. Thank you Brian.
PASA holds an annual Farming for the Future Conference that is really quite spectacular. This year’s 3 day event, held at The Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, PA will be it’s 23rd. The conference is attended by farmers, friends of farmers and folks in the farming industry. It is loaded with educational seminars about sustainable agriculture. The conference is a winter tradition for many east coast farmers and is typically attended by folks from all over the country and in fact the globe. Attendance is in the thousands.
Over my business career I’ve had the opportunity to go to some powerful conventions including The National Hardware and Home improvement Show, once the largest show in the USA, The National Kitchen And Bath Show, numerous Wholesale lawn and garden shows, Electronics shows and more. I can unequivocally say that the positive vibe and approachable nature of this convention is at the top of it’s class. Quite frankly, it’s really cool.
I am not being compensated for this in any way yet I must say if you are interested or involved in the local food movement, sustainable agriculture in general or even just a proponent of simple living YOU SHOULD GO to the PASA winter conference.
Not all food and agricultural businesses are outdoor, traditional farms; that’s for sure. There is a segment of farm businesses that supply retailers and other growers plants for resale and for growing on. Lloyd and Candy Traven at Peace Tree Farm operate one of those unseen businesses. Peace Tree grows nearly one million herb plants and various other flowering annuals in a 60,000 square foot greenhouse complex. They are USDA Certified Organic.
It’s a fact that you can make more money in agriculture selling stuff you can’t eat. Ornamentals, flowers, pumpkins and nursery stock all provide margins far superior to food items. Peace Tree Farm has evolved to some of both. Operating in a commodity business is extremely difficult. Farmers of all types must think about value added products to keep the farming business profitable. Think cheese, custom meat cuts, food processing, even the guacamole you see at local farmers markets. Take that raw agricultural product and turn it into something; that’s where the profit is. The Travens are doing just that by custom growing for a high end niche. They are a smart, hard working, successful couple in the agriculture industry.
Thanks for listening to JACK’S FARM RADIO!
Mike Traud is an educator/administrator within the Culinary Arts and Hospitality program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. The Drexel Hospitality program, which includes the Culinary Arts program is reenergizing itself by bringing on a faculty with high end dinning and business experience.
Mike and I had a meandering conversation about Drexel, the restaurant industry in general and you. Yup all you eaters out there.
What strikes me pretty hard about this conversation is the similarities between the farming industry and the restaurant industry. Remember, my wife and I operate a small certified organic vegetable farm so I know a little about farming. While obvioulsy they both involve food you’re going to also hear about long work hours, low wages, doing a thing for the love of it, and demanding customers all of which happen to be hallmarks of the farming business too.
I have a brand new Facebook page and Twitter account so please like and follow JACK’S FARM RADIO. Thank you for the ratings and the comments on iTunes. They really make a podcaster feel good. And quite frankly motivate me. So keep doing it. Thanks once again to Tin Bird Choir for the intro and outro music.
Tianna Dupont of the Penn State Cooperative Extension joins me on this episode for a fun and informative conversation.
The Coop Extension Service plays an integral role in supporting agriculture throughout the United States. If you’re a farmer and you have a problem or question, the extension is a great resource. Folks like Tianna are the behind the scenes people who make agg. hum.
In this episode of JACK’S FARM RADIO you get a lesson in some of the basic terms, trends and issues of agriculture. Tianna is articulate, thoughtful and quite objective. Listen carefully as she characterizes the word, sustainable, as existing in both the organic and the conventional agricultural paradigms. I think that way of looking at the word makes sense.
As an eater, ultimately, it’s your choice of food that drives the methods that food producers use. Supply follows demand. At the same time food producers, as business people, must constantly strive to maintain and reduce the costs of production. This dance between consumers and producers leads to the innovations we see in agricultural production. The practices and concepts of Integrated Pest Management and No Till are terrific examples of the both the benefits and complex outcomes that drive the agg research – training cycle. While pesticide use has dropped dramatically under the no till concept; the use of Genetically Modified Seed has played a major part in it’s success as a production method.
It may surprise you just how much firepower in terms of people and money are behind the agricultural industry in the United States. There are a ton of federal, state and local programs that are available to farmers at little or no cost to help them stay in business. While this episode does not dwell on them’ here’s a random sampling of the help available to the agg. industry.
The most publicized and as a result, controversial program, is direct farm subsidies. These subsidies are basically a form of insurance that are pegged to the risk of reduced yield or entire loss of a crop due to weather. Other federally funded programs are research based S.A.R.E. grants, Rural Development grants and grants and loans through the Farm Service Agency’s New Farmer and Rancher program.
Plus there’s money and services to protect wet lands, build fences, heck even offset costs of greenhouses. Even farmland preservation is, quite frankly, a subsidy of sorts. The support and research that goes into food production is monumental.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide your position on what type and how much help the agricultural industry needs.
Just remember, agriculture is 1% of GDP in the US as of 2011.
I mentioned Tim Stark on the podcast and here’s a link to his book: [amazon text=Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer&asin=B005UVUXKG].