X-mas Tree Bonfire!!

IMG_20181127_123559_440You are all welcomed to attend the 1st annual X-mas Tree Bonfire at the Farm! I am super excited to incinerate a few dried out and well loved Christmas trees with all of you. Let’s gather together during the Winter Solstice and celebrate the coming growing season!

We’ll be reusing and recycling those lovely smelling, decorations, trees, wreaths, or garlands, what have you. If you don’t have a tree or don’t typically celebrate the Winter Solstice Season with a tree just go ask your neighbors or snag a discarded tree from the street gutter. Because that tree is going to become some excellent fertilizer for our farm!

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Tree Ash is a great resource for the farm. As your farmer and the steward of this little chunk of land I struggle deeply with every day choices. I try to make the best ones, and when it comes to soil preparation and amending it’s a hard bit of truth that I struggle to swallow. Soil is so complex and it’s literally the land we stand on and I want to treat it with deep admiration, thanks and respect. The Pacific Northwest has high clay, high acid soil. It defines our region. This last season I watched and experienced the effects of our soil health on our plants. Many of the plants were dwarfed, a common indication of poor soil health, mainly a lack of the big three N-P-K or Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

This year I will be amending, because the Farm simply can’t feed us all nutritious foods if the soil can’t deliver the required nutrients to those plants to grow healthy, lush lives. I’m not 100% comfortable with this decision. It’s not natural to truck in a bunch of amendments and dump it on one concentrated place- then again the way the first European Pioneers farmed didn’t exactly set us up for long term success. Many of these amendments are mined then trucked and flown from all over the world, that carbon foot print isn’t too kind and feels counter intuitive to sustainable farming. Unfortunately the truly natural way to fix these soil deficiencies is through time (we gatta eat now, I need to pay my rent now), many years of cover cropping (Clover, oat and buckwheat are on the fields currently!),  and the returning to the earth of animal bodies and humanure. Yup, your poop is a much needed component in close looping the farms needs, every time we drive the food away from the farm we are escorting many nutrients away from that particular parcel of land and it takes decades for those nutrients to make their way back.

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Above is a soil test of one of the farm fields.

Here’s my compromise, because we all know life is full of compromises. I will adhere to all OMRI/Organic certs when choosing and applying these amendments and I pledge to always work towards supplementing and reducing even eliminating a few of these amendments. Burning up a bunch of Christmas trees is one such supplement! What could be more fun anyways?  The ash from the bonfire will be scattered across the fields, it contains high amounts of Potassium (N) and Phosphorous (K) and lots of micro-nutrients such as Zinc, Iron and Calcium. N is necessary for flowering and fruiting production of a plant, K increases the plants resistance to disease and enhances root growth. The application of our burn pile wood ash is similar to Agricultural Lime with about half the potency. Ag Lime and Wood Ash are very alkaline which counteracts or helps neutralize the high acidity found naturally in our clay soils allowing us to find a balance. For mixed vegetable production we are shooting for ‘7’. Check out the scale below! PH SCALEThere is some hope that with time, the farm can raise the PH level high enough that we can maintain it through more sustainable practices such as using wood ash and fish shells instead of trucking in stone, mineral or manufactured lime. Please join me in the merriment and the soil science experiment! Together as a community we’ll learn, grow and eat together!

See you at the Bonfire!

Farmer Michelle! & Farm Family!

Winter Planning Retreat

imageTaking in the tides of the Pacific.
During the winter season it’s true that many of the plants slow down or die back but that doesn’t mean your farmer has slowed down. I am still out in the fields observing  drainage and taking notes on the growth of the cover crops planted. Garlic and Fava Beans were planted alongside the practical nitrogen fixing, pollinator loving and erosion reducing Crimson Red Clover, Oats and Barley. (Cover Crop Blog post is in the works).
This time of year I am mostly inside the barn building out shelters, improvements, new tools and implements that’ll help reduce the physical demands of farming during the season. I am also fixing structures, roofs, tools, and making safety improvements to the barn’s Hay Loft. Building sturdy permanent ladders, replacing broken flooring and installing a hoist that’ll enable lifting heavy items up safely and efficiently to the storage space found in the hayloft.
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City cat Duke Starman helping me study.
Besides the continued physical tasks on the farm I am also taking these colder weather months to cozy up inside with a cup of Mint tea and my city cat, Duke, to really dive into the Farm’s Business plan. This year I started what I hope to be an annual event, the Farm Retreat, I took a much needed ‘Workcation’ and stayed in a Yurt on the Oregon Coast. This was my first Vacation in year and I was grateful to log off and head outside to explore a new environment. We went tide pooling at Otter Rock Beach and checked out a beach of Singing Rocks! IT WAS AMAZING. In the coming years I look forward to heading out to the beach with the Farm Crew and going over the Farm’s Business Plan and Vision. I hope the creativity and color of the beach and so many other ecosystems can help us be creative in the ways we meet members needs and the needs of those who struggle to access good, clean, whole foods.
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A view into an Oregon Coast tidepool.
I’m spending much of my winter creating marketing strategies, refining finances, developing the coming seasons crop plan and making wishlists complete with budgets for all the projects and seed purchases. I am currently enrolled in the Mercy Corps NW Business Foundations 1 and already have on my calendar the Business Plan and Business Foundations 2. Upcoming seminars about taxes, accounting, time management are all on my radar to attend in the coming year. I have learned so much and have been able to unpack what feels like an insurmountable amount of documents, research and thinking into manageable chunks that I have drafted into a timeline to hold myself accountable and actually complete.
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A view of my study nest inside our yurt.
With farming there is always this never ending list of tasks and as quickly as I can check one off a new task or two is added. It can often feel overwhelming with everything coming at me all at once. Luckily one of my strengths is good priority setting and self motivation that keeps me moving every day as my own boss. As an Outdoor Adult Educator I’ve also learned to never stop learning, so every year I’ll probably go back through the business plan and review much of the groundwork I am laying down. Just because you’ve done it once doesn’t mean you can’t learn more, improve on and grow every year. Markets fluctuate, the climate is fluctuating, my expectations fluctuate; learning is a lifelong endeavor.
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A visual of my Business Time Table
Every year this time of year you’ll probably find me on the couch, drinking tea with a cat asleep on piles of books and me jotting down notes. Clicking away on the computer improving and strengthen the vision and viable execution of this farm. Together we are creating a farm to feed our community and contribute to our food sovereignty. Thank you for joining me in this noble and necessary journey!
Cheers!
Farmer Michelle

A Season in Reflection

This year I found myself. No, wait, not like that. I already found myself, I love being outside, I love lists, I love making food from the most ‘scratch’ that I can. I might never grow wheat and winnow the crop, grind it into flour and then make pasta with my own chickens eggs. No, I’ve already ‘found myself’, I know how I research and learn, how I communicate love and affection, what I love to do with my time, how I want to live my life in this world. I already ‘found myself’ in my harsh communication style, in the way I practice more cheer leading and focus less on feedback (criticism?) and knowing and practicing on my short patience. Miniature Donkeys really help shorten the learning curve of developing a more prolonged patience.

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This year I learned that I may lean towards the workaholic side of the scale. That I have frequently in the past and this year especially over extended myself. Self improvement is a lifetime goal achieved in little chunks every January and February before the new years resolution is forgotten in favor of the comfort of familiarity. When my farm partner and co-founder wasn’t able to show up to the farm I found myself alone, angry, confused and most of all exhausted. They were the dreamer, fantasy maker, they embodied the wild and confidant notion that we could do this. They were the push when I needed a shove. Of course I wasn’t expecting a shove into the deep end of a freezing rushing river. Irregardless I have my co-founder Nev to thank for the dream turned into reality that is 50Fifty Farm. Thank you, and good luck in your future endeavors. May you draw on lessons learned on the farm, that those lessons may help you better exceed and grow through out your future.

So, I found myself, alone, exhausted, over committed and double booked all summer long. We made it! The CSA was a success, folx were fed, nourished, introduced to new foods and explored a season of local fresh produce! I am so full of gratitude. Thankful that you see this vision and support it. That all the CSA members and the many additional volunteers and family who pitched in watering and feeding supported this vision of fresh produce, both old standbys and the new to us but old to this land native edibles, it’s overwhelming! We are doing this! The farm infrastructure is near functional and tolerable and the bigger, more expensive projects are behind us. Meaning the future can only get better, run more smoothly and be more productive! I am so excited to focus only on the farm in the coming season.

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This winter I am enrolled in the Mery Corps Small Business incubator program! Two classes in and I am already so stoked and narrowing in our farms mission! I’m volunteering every other week at Full Plate Farm learning about winter farming in the PNW. Additionally I am exploring my heritages spirituality and language through a class with Portland Underground Grad School; reading Braiding Sweet Grass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmer as well as a CSA Members gift a book titled Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources  by M. Kat Anderson. Thank you Nikki!

Keep an eye on this blog and for newsletters coming out Monthly for when CSA registration opens back up and for upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Never stop learning!                                                                                                                             – Farmer Michelle

 

“Good Growth”

 

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“Good Growth; at new 50Fifty Farm in Camas, focus is on sustainability, giving back to the community” -Kelly Moyer

You may have already seen our article in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record, as we have posted about it all over our social media accounts, but if you have yet to give it a read through, you can check out the full article here. It was really fun to have Kelly come out to do the interview and give her a tour of the farm. Each time we have someone out here, we have another chance to share our hopes and dreams for this farm; to tell our story. Each time we get to tell that story, it further solidifies our resolve to succeed.

“One of the best ways for people to open their eyes to a whole new world of nutritious and unique produce — and support small, diversified farms like 50Fifty, which help the environment by greatly reducing the energy needed to get food from farm to table — is through the CSA box program. By paying for 20 weeks’ worth of produce boxes up front, CSA boxes help farmers like Faull and Week have enough money to run their farm and grow their food.”

We were also lucky enough to be published with River Talk Weekly! The support we’ve received since both articles were released has been amazing–from a spike in our social media traffic and followers, to a huge surge in sign-ups for our CSA boxes. As we head into the third week of April, we only have a few CSA’s left! If you’ve been on the fence about signing up, now is the time! We are always available to answer any questions at 50fiftyfarm@gmail.com. The season is really ramping up, please join us!

Happy CSA Day!


The last week of February is when most CSA Farms aim get the majority of their new and returning members signed up for the upcoming season. The last Friday of February is celebrated as CSA Day and this year we are joining our fellow farmers! This short video illustrates a few reasons why members feel pride in their CSA Memberships. First and foremost people love supporting their local farmers (us!), by giving us our “literal and figurative seed money”. Building a relationship with your farmer also changes your relationship with your food; you have a closer more informed view of how your food starts from our simple seeds, and end up in your families bellies. Other simple, yet incredibly impactful benefits are, learning how to cook seasonally (and therefore more sustainably), introducing new healthful foods into your diet, and reducing the amount of fossil fuels used to transport your produce from farm to plate. Join us in this celebration by signing up for your CSA Membership today, and by encouraging our family and friends to support their local farmers too!


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#CSAday

 

Dr. John Boyd Jr.

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Photo from NPR

We would be remiss to allow Black History Month to pass without touching on the founder of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), Dr. John Boyd Jr.

A fourth generation farmer turned farmer-activist, Dr. John Boyd Jr. lead and successfully settled a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for historical discrimination against Black farmers in 1999.

“Basically it was the government discriminating against black farmers. For not lending them money on time, for not processing their loan applications.

I always said farmers are faced with acts of nature such as hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts. But you never should be faced with the actual hand of the federal government. They’re supposed to give you a lending hand up, and not a lending hand down and mistreat people the way the government mistreated black farmers.”

–Dr. John Boyd Jr. via NPR

Though the lawsuit was successfully settled, it took a span of 30 years and 12 attempts in Congress to pass the bill that finally authorized the $1.25 billion settlement.

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Photo from Richmond Times-Dispatch

Check out his full interview at NPR to hear from Boyd about why it matters that Black people farm, and the entirety of The John Boyd Story on the NBFA website.


 

Meet & Greet 2018

Photos by Gary Smith


Have we mentioned how much fun we had at our very first Meet & Greet event last week?! Salud! Wine Bar graciously provided us the perfect space for our community to gather and learn more about what it means to become a CSA Member with us (Community Supported Agriculture). We went over the risks and benefits of becoming a member, shared our future goals and projects for the farm, and celebrated our accomplishments thus far! That night we also welcomed new members with hand painted 50Fifty Farm tote bags, coupons for our booth at the 2018 Camas Farmers Market, and little bundles of fresh rosemary. We have a very limited number of available CSA memberships this year, so if you’re interested sign up ASAP!

 

Winter Update

Hello all,

Here is a little winter update about the farm and where we are headed and how we ended the season. Since the cancellation of the Harvest Moon Camp out we were still able to complete many projects. Though unable to reschedule the Camp out we did build our little green house, seed tables, root washing table, repair a barn door and build our Rabbitry which now houses our three starter stock, two (2) does and one (1) buck.

We have successfully put our farm to bed, laid out our various cover crops of grains, pollinator plants and garlic. Though we still have a few growing crops as we move into the winter season they are not of market value. Never fear we are feeding our families and friends from these slower growing and hardy veggies. We are so excited to keep growing our farm, we have sat down and created projections and cost analysis as well as developed our CSA ready for release near the beginning of December. Following is a list of successful plants from this years 2017 summer/fall season, some difficult plants and some plants we hope to grow so that you have an idea of what to expect our offerings to be. I have left pricing and unit type intact so that you can view the value with which we attribute our time, quality of produce and energy for each item.

Successes!!! This is a list of plants that we grew, in quality & quantity, enough to sell that has fed our drive and built our confidence to keep building the farm business. The plants in BOLD were our top sellers and producers that we were able to offer. Cherry Plum actually only sold once but the tree is so healthy that I hope to get a post up on how to maximize this heritage fruit leveraging it’s unique flavor.

Blackberries $3.00 pint
Borage $4.00 clam
Broccoli $2.50 lb
Cherry Plum $4.00 lb
Chives $2.50 bunch
Collard Greens $4.00 bunch
Green Tomatoes $3.00 lb
Hungarian Wax Peppers aka Banana Peppers $4.00 lb
Red Russian Kale $3.00 bunch
Tomatillo $3.00 lb

Almosts: Here are some plants that were successfully grown in quality and quantity for market sale but who’s consistency or one time appearance on the availability list left some questions about how we can improve our harvest. Though I have a Swiss Chard plant from June that is still growing today, we never grew enough of this plant to truly offer it for sale. The lettuce was also a successful grower we just didn’t quite get the growing pattern down to plant it in succession all season long. The tomatoes grew wildly, that we had a huge harvest but lacked time to properly maintain the plants which is why it is on this list. Though we did manage to sell some bell peppers their growth was extremely underwhelming.

Bell peppers- green $4.00 lb
Cucumbers $2.00 ea
Edible Flowers Mix – Cilantro, Borage, Calendula, Basil $4.00 clam
Heirloom Orange Brandy-wine Tomatoes $4.00 lb
Leaf lettuce bunches $2.00 ea
Mixed Cherry & Pear Tomatoes $3.00 pint
Swiss Chard $2.50 lb

I’d like to list a few plants under this category that we did not offer for sale but with which we had huge success with and handed out to friends and family and canned.

Apples Nasturtiums
Bok Choy Onion
Carrots Radishes
Cauliflower Strawberries
Marjoram Cascadia Peas
Mint  Green Cherry Toms

The Difficult Ones: We planted these plants with high hopes and instead our hopes were replaced with lessons. Maybe we planted them in the wrong place or at the wrong time or both. Maybe these plants were planted in the back acreage where the water had a hard time reaching and the well drained twice and shut down water to that location. Maybe we didn’t care for them at all (Potatoes) or maybe we cared for them a lot and the laws of distribution and resale or ambiguous (Apples). Or maybe some critter is filling up on crocuses. At least I can say we identify 90% of what the problem is and time, energy and money are all we need to remedy these snags.

Apples Lavender
Artichoke Oregano
Basil Potatoes
Beans Raspberries
Beets Rosemary
Blueberries Saffron Crocus
Cabbages Sage
Celery Tarragon
Corn Thyme
Daylillies Watermelon
Eggplant Zucchini

The Wishlist!!! Here is a wish list of plants we would like to experiment with in the coming season! Many of these choices are edible flowers!  BOLD are plants we actually grew but with little attention.

Amaranth Ecanacia Pansy
Arugula Green Onion Pumpkin
Bachelor Buttons Ground Cherry Rhubarb
Borage Hibiscus Romanesco Broccoli
Bread Poppy Hyssop Rutabaga
Butternut squash Johnny Jump Up Spinach
Cantaloupe Kohlrabie Sunflower
Chamomile Marigolds Turnip
Cilantro Mustard Violets
Dill Nasturtium
Yellow Crookneck Squash

We hope you are interested in trying these foods out, and we look forward to hearing your requests and suggestions and seeing if we can incorporate them into the field plan, if not this year the next for sure!