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.
You should be giving. A great place to give, if you’re into food, is your local food bank. In this episode I visit with Larry Welsch of the Chester County Food Bank. Larry gives me an overview of the food bank system. Did you know that over 10% of the United States population receives some sort of food assistance? We talk about that and more on this episode. So get out there and give; your time, your money or your food, it doesn’t matter, people need to eat.
Theresa Mycek manages Colchester Farm in Georgetown, Maryland a 10 acre non profit vegetable farm. Theresa has been at the farm for over 5 years. This is a great interview with a lovely person who has followed what I’d call a classic small farm career path from intern to farm manager.
The Schmidt’s are extremely active in the farm industry as advocates for agriculture in general and are focused on trying to dispel some of the myths they see as villainizing family farms and larger farm enterprises.
This is a fascinating conversation with the owners of an extremely large farm and believe me, it’s all about family. I think they think just like I do with just some extra zeros on the ends of their numbers.
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.
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!
Jon Entine from the Genetic Literacy Project joins me today to discuss his decidedly pro- point of view on GMO (genetically modified organism) seed and farming. This topic tends to bring strong emotional reactions no matter what side of the argument you are on. According to the USDA over 75% of corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the USA is GMO and the USA accounts for over half of the global production in acres.
It is quite difficult to to get unbiased, trustworthy information about this controversial topic. The extremes seem to rule the information on the internet. The World Health Organization appears to take a fairly centrist point of view, recognizing that there have been no studies to overtly discredit the safety of GMO agriculture yet at the same time acknowledging there could be potential problems. They also have recommended protocols for the companies engaged in the modification process.
As for me, I’m still not entirely sure what I believe on the subject. I have made what I consider the safest choice for now I LIVE IT; I own and opperate a USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm. No GMO seed is allowed.
This episode is the beginning of my journey to talk with multiple people with multiple points of view about the subject of GMO. At some point I’m going to form a definitive opinion.
Each person must make their own choice though and I recognize as a reasonable person, that the arguments for and against are not clear. The unintended consequences that are potentially harmful to the environment appear to be the biggest risks from my point of view. Uncontrolled pollination, what the WHO calls “outcrossing” seems to be a genuine issue. The potential effects of outcrossing or pollen drift, are highlighted in the fight by Organic farmers to prevent contamination by cross pollination.
In another episode I will talk with an anti-GMO person and we’ll get their point of view.
The food industry is fascinating. Thanks for listening to JACK’S FARM RADIO please subscribe at iTunes.
Trey and Deirdre Flemming operate Two Gander Farm near Philadelphia, PA.
I drove to Two Gander, a 10 acre vegetable farm, late one evening to talk with them about their new or should I say old farm. Trey and Deirdre have accomplished a lot over the last year. This season they moved their farm operation about 25 miles to a new, more permanent location. As I drove in the long driveway I could see even in the darkness and through the high tensile deer fence the makings of a viable vegetable farm. High tunnels, 1000 gallon water tanks and an organized opperation all lay in front of me.
In some ways this episode revolves around land access. Trey has been farming for quite a while on different properties and for different people. He’s on his own now, with Deirdre of course, in a true family farm situation. The Flemmings had to move from leased farm property due to a sale. During their search for property they were introduced to the Brandywine Conservancy through an almost random conversation with a farmers market customer.
Access to land is a huge issue for all farmers. If you’re young you probably don’t have the capital to buy land. If you’re currently farming, rising land prices are an impediment to growth. Finding a way around land access issues occupies the minds of a lot of people in the farm industry right now.
Trey talks about The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture also known as P.A.S.A. This organization has brought him many opportunities.
Good Agricultural Practices or GAP in farm jargon is taking on more weight each year as a third party checklist to ensure that farmers and the supply chain they use practice safe food handling.
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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.
Lindsey Shapiro and Landon Jefferies own and operate 3 year old Root Mass Farm in Oley, PA. This young, well educated couple work on a limited budget growing vegetables that they sell primarily at farmers markets in Philadelphia, Pa.
Lindsey and Landon really are doing this on a virtual shoestring. You’ll hear about the limited equipment they use, how they found a farm to lease and what they eat during the busy season. Lindsey and Landon sell their produce at Headhouse Square and The Frankford Transportation Center markets in Philadelphia.
If anything this discussion really points to the need for you to spend more of your food budget at your most local, Producer Only Farmers Market. Producer Only Farmers Markets are just that; the folks selling at those markets are growing and or making their own items to sell directly to you. In The food industry, the vast majority of profit typically goes to the wholesalers. Supporting your local farmers at a Producer Only Farmers Market is a really heathy decision for both you, your community and the producer. Shopping this way helps the farmer or producer capture more of the profit in the transaction.
Lindsey and Landon are a terrific example of the modest, hard working, idealistic food producers you’ll meet at your local producer only farmers market. These are the types of local food industry people you need to support. Hope you enjoy this conversation with Root Mass Farm.