Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New opportunity...


Some good news...I was talking to my friend at Meadowlark Heritage Farm and she said that I could grow my sunflowers at her farm!  I think she is so excited to have access to unlimited sunflowers all summer.  She would often buy 2 big bunches from me at the Farmer's Market...it seems she really enjoyed them and is excited to have them on her property.  There is no infrastructure so I will be starting from scratch but I already have a good idea of how I would like to proceed.  We are going to walk the property in March to determine the best placement for the flowers.  There is lots of space!

Click on picture of goat to go to their website.
Meadowlark Heritage Farm raises goats and sells goat soap at the Farmer's Market.  They also have several other products.  Check them out on Facebook by clicking on the picture below:

Palouse Clearwater Grower's Conference

Yesterday, I went to the first Palouse Clearwater Grower's Conference.  It was a nice round table discussion of local issues that pertain to small, sustainable farms in the area.  Some of the areas that were discussed included:  wholesale marketing, labor, collaboration, and a lot more that I simply cannot remember.  

One thing I learned about was Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).  It seems that lots of people have questions about the GAP codes that may be going into effect in the next couple of years.  Here is some information from the Food and Agriculture Organization:

What are Good Agricultural Practices?

 A multiplicity of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) codes, standards and regulations have been developed in recent years by the food industry and producers organizations but also governments and NGOs, aiming to codify agricultural practices at farm level for a range of commodities. Their purpose varies from fulfillment of trade and government regulatory requirements (in particular with regard to food safety and quality), to more specific requirements of specialty or niche markets. 

The objective of these GAP codes, standards and regulations include, to a varying degree:

ensuring safety and quality of produce in the food chain
capturing new market advantages by modifying supply chain governance
improving natural resources use, workers health and working conditions, and/or
creating new market opportunities for farmers and exporters in developing countries.
Good Agricultural Practices are "practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products" (FAO COAG 2003 GAP paper) (html).

These four 'pillars' of GAP (economic viability, environmental sustainability, social acceptability and food safety and quality) are included in most private and public sector standards, but the scope which they actually cover varies widely.

The concept of Good Agricultural Practices may serve as a reference tool for deciding, at each step in the production process, on practices and/or outcomes that are environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable. The implementation of GAP should therefore contribute to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD).

Lots of great networking at the event and a chance to meet other farmers.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Some bad news...

Sustainable Small Farms Class

Saturday was the first all day Farm class.  We had webinars about Whole Farm Planning, Evaluating Your Resources, Selecting Enterprises and Assessing the Market.  Each webinar presentation had a farmer speak about their experiences with starting their farms.  I enjoyed this part the most - they were all very inspiring.  Here are the local farmers that presented from the Palouse area.  If you click on the picture, it will take you to their website:

Wilson Banner Ranch
Our landmark family heritage farm has been sustainably run and diversified for over 100 years. We grow many varieties dating back to the first fruit trees in the state. We believe in using environmentally friendly, scientifically proven methods of farming.

In 2006, Skylines Farm added beef steers and then feeder pigs to the operation, caring for them using the same management practices and attention to detail that the sheep were receiving. In 2013 I retired the sheep portion of the businees and greatly expanded the grassfed beef and pastured pig operations.

Deep Roots Farm in Moscow, ID grows vegetables, fruits, and eggs using techniques that promote biodiversity on their farm. They practice an intensive planting rotation to create diversity for plant health while increasing production on a small land base. They utilize laying hens for fertility and pest control. They provide open and untouched space for beneficial insects and wild animals.

This is one of the homework assignments for the Small Farm Class:
Choose a timeframe from one, five to ten years (or more). Revisit your values if necessary. Next, develop a description of your business and personal future using some or all of the questions that follow.Or if you prefer, write a story, draw a map. Dream a little! Don’t worry about the development of specific goals or action strategies—you will be setting goals and developing business strategies in the Worksheets and chapters that follow. For now, keep your vision fairly general and, if possible, address your critical planning need in some way. Remember—have each of your planning team members develop their own personal and business vision for the future. Most importantly, ask,What will our farm or business look like in one, five or ten years?

Dreaming a Future Business Vision
In 2 years, our dream for our farm business is to start looking to purchase a property with 5-10 acres. Then, after Mark completes high school (he is currently a Freshman), we will start to purchase equipment/housing to raise free range chickens for pastured eggs. We will probably start with 100 chickens and then increase a little each year, if we continue to see demand for eggs. We will actively sell these eggs at the Farmer's Market from May-October. During the winter, we may have a drop off time/location for people to come and get eggs each week.
In addition to the eggs, we want to explore a you-pick berry farm, you-pick pumpkin patch
and you-cut Christmas tree farm. This would continue to provide some additional income
when the market is not in session. We also make and sell jams/jellies from the fruit produce that
we grow or forage for. We have sold cut sunflowers in the past at the Farmer's Market and
we are not sure that we will continue to do this once we have the chickens going.
All our products will be direct sales.

Okay...now for the bad news that was promised in the headline.  The farm where we grew our sunflowers last year has been leased so a different farmer.  There will be no room for us to grow our sunflowers (sad face...).  So, we are not sure what we are going to do at this time.  Possibly locate a new farm to grow at???

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Roasting a duck and starting small Farm class

In the Kitchen

We are roasting a duck today!  

No...this is not a picture of the duck I am roasting...it is still in the oven as I am typing this.  For some reason, Joshua just thought we should have duck to eat.  I don't think I have ever eaten duck.  So, this is quite a new experience for all of us.  Click on the picture above to go to the recipe that I am using.

Farm Business Update

So, last Monday, Mark turned 15.  I am not sure why but this seems like a major milestone to me...maybe it is because he is in high school now.  For some reason it is just getting so real that he is becoming a young adult and lots of changes are going to be happening the next few years!

So, I applied to the Secretary of State for a Certificate of Organization for a Limited Liability Company for ReMARKable Farms.  I also applied for an EIN number.  After I get the receipt of the Limited Liability Company being completed, I am going to open a Business checking and savings.
So, things are happening with getting the farm business organized.

Starting Your Sustainable Small Farm class

I have signed up for a class through the University of Idaho Extension.  It is called Starting Your Sustainable Small Farm.  My books arrived last week and we had a beginning webinar to explain how the class works.  There is an online Moodle site where we can get our assignments and even start forums.  There are 160 people throughout the state of Idaho taking the class.  Our first face-to-face class will be this Saturday from 9:00AM-4:00PM.  There are several reading assignments and worksheets to fill out before our first class.  I have made my family fill out a Business Qualities Checklist and a Family Needs and Preferences survey.  I also completed some worksheets about mission statements and goals.  

These 3 books were given to us as part of the class:

I wish I could share some of the worksheets that I filled out but I don't think I can share text documents.  They are saved as pdf's and I do not have the ability to make them into "pics" on this computer.  I will share more about the class next week after I have gone through a full day of class.


I am doing great on the de-cluttering goal.  I have now realized that tossing a ton of stuff is going to be more of a challenge than I had previously thought...however, I am up for the challenge and have already tossed or donated 147 pounds of items and I am still working on the kitchen (I did donate one chair that was about 55 pounds...).  So, only 1853 pounds to go!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

De-cluttering goal for 2016

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am starting the year with a resolution...de-clutter!  

I actually signed up for this challenge last year but never got around to doing it!  So, this year, I am dedicated and I even set a goal to purge a ton of items from the home...yes, I realize that this is a lot!  Maybe I won't make it but at least I have a goal!  I have already gotten rid of 50 pounds...and I have just started!

Click on picture above for more information on how to sign up to join the challenge...it's not too late!

In the Garden

I have 3 seed catalogs and I am having fun on trying to decide what to plant!  I have seen another double sunflower that I may try...I did not really care for the variety I had planted last year.  

This post is short...tired from all that de-cluttering...