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!