On the farm

Sometimes, I feel like there is no farm news to share, especially at this time of year. Ask me about family time, reading and writing and arithmetic, sewing and knitting, baking more, and crazy fall cleaning…then I might have a lot to say! True, all of this takes place in the context of your farm, because the farm is our home and everyday landscape as much as it is our job too. We take our little walks down into the trees to mark the changing of the seasons, seeing how our one special spot can change so much from month to month. We walk the pastures with the goats and chickens, our youngest an animal girl from the start. What we don’t do much of anymore, is visit the vegetables. They don’t need much from us, and if they do, like the leeks and their weeds, it is hard to put that task at the top of the list, knowing that the weeds will be dying back soon and the leeks will outgrow them in time. We do keep a close eye on the new field and the rain as it comes. We have cabbages, chinese cabbages, turnips, kale, purple peacock broccoli, mispoona, and lettuces planted down there in what goes underwater as winter progresses. It doesn’t usually happen until after the first of the year, so we planned on harvesting things up through this month and next. The heavy rain keeps us on edge, but so far so good. In fact, that sums up the news from the farm as we venture into winter, so far so good…what more could we hope for!

Blog For Food Campaign

Because our farm is young and because we started the whole thing coming off of five years of living on a single meager income, whenever we make arrangements to donate to the food bank, Andre always jokes that it is the needy helping the needy. Luckily, we aren’t needy in the food department, being able in land and body and knowledge to grow so much of it for ourselves. Even when we didn’t have so much space, we were able to do this for ourselves…I’m not sure what our food status would have been otherwise. Even with the few staples I go to the store for, a bag or two full of butter, bulk grains and beans and flours, coffee, cream, olive and coconut oil, fruit in the winter, some almond milk, sometimes some cheese–I walk away with a price tag that always surprises me. Food is expensive, especially nourishing food from good sources. And I know of how to save money (and resources) on these things, Azure Standard, and I know how to cook, and knowledge goes such a long way when we are talking about poverty and hunger.

So a group of Oregon bloggers have joined together to raise money for the Oregon Food Bank, I urge all of you to contribute to this campaign by clicking on the logo here to go to the OFB donation page (just write “blog for food” in the tribute section), as these food banks are helping a lot of our community members right now, and if we help to keep them well stocked, they will continue to be a great source of help come what may this year. But, and I don’t really have anything solid here, more like just a calling to arms, great help can also be spread through spreading information. This is more difficult than it sounds, I know. But helping our communities gain knowledge about how to have more control of our food security and more knowledge as to how this is integrally tied to the control we have over our own health..this would help us become a community that has even more assets to fight these huge issues of hunger, poverty, and health care.

You can always take food itself too. If you would prefer to donate food rather than money, we were given this information as well pertaining to this particular campaign: Sarah Pederson from Saraveza has generously offered her place as a food drop off site for the campaign. So if people would rather donate canned goods than cash, direct them to Saraveza! (http://saraveza.com/) Saraveza is located at 1004 N. Killingsworth, PDX 503-206-4252. Here in the valley, contact Tricia Harrop of YCAP at Ext. 124 – 503-883-4170 for information on how to donate in Yamhill County.

For us, we always feel blessed when we have fresh produce to donate. We have to provide for the business and our family first, and because of those larger needs, the first few years we donated little in comparison to what we were growing. Our hope is that with improved yields we can reach a point of donating every week. And this is something for everyone with means to consider…planting just a little extra in your garden can provide you with a way to help fight hunger with fresh, nourishing food. For those in need, a little from those of us who feel our needs our met, goes a long way.

It takes a village to build a farm…

This past week flew by in a flurry of activity, and unlike the feeling we often have after having a lot of extra curricular activities–the kind of tired, needing to withdraw back into the warm, fuzzy boundaries of our farm to recover from the energy mounted to be social feeling—we came into this week refreshed. Just as those who participated in some of the traditions that form the roots of our modern day Halloween took comfort in coming together to mark the beginning of winter, to build a community fire from which their home fires were lit for the coming cold and darkness, we too felt especially centered in the arms of our community as we entered this week. From the more mundane act of dressing up and walking your town in the dark with a gaggle of children and their wonderful parents and catching a glimpse of the simple and real joy people find in being sweet to the little ones of this world–in spite of the whole thing going against my parental and societal values (white sugar, high fructose corn syrup-bad, millions of tiny candy wrappers in the trash-bad, another holiday turned into a marketing blitz and spoiled by consumerism-bad); from this, to more community outreach for a great farm to school program taking place at Memorial elementary, where we had samples of tasty fall vegetables for the kids and watched our friends Jack from Hope Springs Farm and Katie from Oakhill Organics very humorously takes sides in a carrot/cherry candidate debate! To round it all out, we spent a lovely evening at the home of wine growers and makers of Barbara Thompson Wines along with friends from our homeschool group. This potluck was what really brought us to this point, on the verge of the end of this election year hoping for the best, just a little less frantic and more at peace than anything. After not only being busy with all these plans on top of an already trying week on the home front as we face our winter finances, it was truly relaxing to just have a nice time and to be surrounded with good people, all of whom do not think we are too crazy (I am sure they think we are a little crazy) for all of our crazy thoughts and who are a huge part of the supporting arms we all need around us not only as we go into winter, but in all aspects of living this life. As if to drive this very real sentiment home after all of this, our neighbor kindly spent a few hours this weekend splitting wood with us and helped us learn a little more about the still somewhat sordid but nonetheless real business of eating meat here on the farm. Here we are blessed with support coming from all directions: good friends, good neighbors, and a great community enthusiastically supporting this farm. We are happy to count all of you amongst this community, we couldn’t do this without you!!

Hope for the Future

Two things have been at the forefront of our minds this last week, two things that we hope have the potential to affect the future…for the better. Politics is something often talked about in our home, but not something I ever feel inclined to talk about on this front or even with many friends. It is such a sticky mess to get into, a place where people feel so strongly and where issues tend to be almost as divisive in this country as religion is in other parts of the world . Still, since we don’t fit nicely into most boxes, politics are no exception; and finding ourselves neither red nor blue makes us less likely to offend and more likely to be considered crazy or naïve. So the big question here isn’t McCain or Obama (even if we do lean), we are too cynical to believe they don’t both represent a broken system and besides, we won’t be giving any votes to anyone who voted for the bailout. What interests us much more is what we are making decisions on about here in our town, county, and state. We do believe good things can happen on this level. So we hope to protect our groundwater and keep some farmland around by voting Yes on Measure 36-119 prohibiting the landfill expansion within 2000 feet of floodplain, we are voting for Kris Bledsoe to bring a new voice to the county, and for Michael Paine for the position of Soil and Water director Zone 4, another small direct market sustainable farmer (Gaining Ground Farm in Yamhill). Higher up the chain…well we tend to vote for third parites so we know those recommendations won’t go far! Whatever way you go, the important part is taking part in your democracy on all levels. Our hope is that we will actually be represented on the local level..it seems clear that the folk in Washington mostly have their own agenda.
The second thing we have been working on is a couple of youth education events. These, we hope, hold even more promise for a brighter future than the ballot. Our farm hand, Jessy Aguilar, represented us and veggie growing in general at Memorial school this morning in an effort to connect kids to their food and farmers, and today a group of homeschoolers will watch a CSA harvest in action, again with the help of Jessy so we can work full steam ahead. Our hopes…that talking about food with farmers, seeing a small farm and food growing from the ground will inspire good eating/purchasing choices and future farmers!! Really, as many changes as we wish to see on the federal level, we know that change on the local level is as powerful and effective at creating a better world as anything. On the most basic level, our own selves, our homes, our communities, can all be a mirror for the rest of the world.