Farmers from 10 states and provinces are expected to
attend "Organic Vegetable Farming for a Living: A Workshop Exploring All
Facets of Growing" sponsored by the Regional Farm & Food Project.
This January 9 - 11, 2004 program will feature the wisdom and experience
of farmers of Chip Planck from Virginia, Chris and Kim Blanchard from Minnesota,
and Polly and Mike Hutchison from Rhode Island. Each of these farm
families earns their living raising vegetables using organic principles.
The workshop starts Friday morning, Jan. 9 and runs through Sunday afternoon, Jan. 11 and takes place in Ballston Spa, NY (between Albany and Saratoga Springs). The fee for the three-day program starts at $150 and includes 5 delicious catered meals and a workshop binder. As space is limited, early registration is strongly advised; advance registration is required.
As part of the popular annual Farmer-to-Farmer Winter Workshop Series, now in its seventh year, this workshop is designed as continuing education for people who are actively farming on a commercial basis. Please contact the Regional Farm & Food Project at 518/271-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to receive a workshop brochure.
The workshop will address specific topics within three broad areas in which successful farmers must be competent -- production, management, and marketing. The farmer presenters will discuss pertinent subjects on the basis of what has or has not worked for them on their own farms coupled with their pragmatic understanding of the science and market forces involved. Participants will have ample opportunity to get acquainted with the presenters and other farmers.
On the subject of production, presenters will share their practices such as cover cropping for soil improvement, soil fertility through balancing base saturation (the Albrecht approach), low cost winter growing (greens and root crops in unheated hoop houses in Minnesota!), crop planning and successions to juggle multiple varieties of 40 crops, and efficient harvesting and sound post harvest handling techniques.
Management topics will range from labor and finances to integrating farming with family and personal goals through Holistic Management. These farmers will outline their income and expenses and explain how they make decisions about capital investments and debt. Guidance about farming with small children, farming with a non-profit organization, and becoming a full-time farmer, as well as thoughts on retirement and farm preservation are also on the agenda.
Marketing savvy is the third centerpiece
of this workshop. Starting a farmers' market, navigating market politics
and administration, and making markets work for you are among the farmers'
market topics to be addressed. Other highlights will include starting,
growing, and managing a Community Supported Agriculture farm, the psychology
of CSA members, and creating special sale events.
About the Presenters:
Chip Planck and his wife Susan own and manage Wheatland Vegetable Farms, 50 miles northwest of Washington, DC, where they crop 35 acres of a 65 acre farm and manage about 15 workers at peak season. They have farmed full-time since 1973 and sell exclusively through 13 weekly producer- only farmers' markets in the highly competitive DC area. With the exception of a foliar fertilizer they use only organic methods including cover crops, green manures, and organic mulches in the aisles. They Chip has spoken and written extensively on farm-related subjects and is active in land preservation and market development organizations.
Polly and Mike Hutchison have farmed at Casey Farm in Rhode Island for 10 years. They cultivate 8-1/2 acres in vegetables and cover crops, and also have permanent plantings of blueberries and raspberries. Mixed livestock (150 layers, pigs, cattle, and draft horses) are rotationally grazed on 30 acres of pasture and they also make hay. Understanding the psychology of the CSA member has helped them maintain a high retention rate among their 200 member CSA. Their Mothers' Day weekend plant sale, which in 2003 attracted 2,300 people, provides 15% of their income. Employing local people, rather than interns, has given them the benefit of an experienced workforce.
Chris and Kim Blanchard have been farming organically together for 14 years. They purchased Rock Spring Farm on the Minnesota-Iowa border almost five years ago and by 2002 had grown their annual sales to $120,000. They raise 8 acres of vegetables and also produce vegetables year round in 6,000 square feet of greenhouses. Since they farmed on the coast of Maine, Chris and Kim have used Eliot Coleman's precepts for growing vegetables during the winter, and they have adapted these techniques to their climate and markets. While skillful as farmers, they attribute their success also to their analytic attitude and their openness to learning from their mistakes.
The workshop sponsor, Regional Farm & Food Project (http://www.capital.net/~farmfood/), fosters new opportunities for family-scale farms and promotes new connections between farmers and communities. Founded in 1996, this non-profit, membership organization of farmers and consumers is currently based in Troy, NY, and serves a twelve county area.
Please contact the Regional Farm & Food Project (http://www.capital.net/~farmfood/) at 518/271-0744 or email@example.com for more information
Regional Farm & Food Project
NOTE NEW ADDRESS & PHONE NUMBERS!
295 Eighth Street, Troy, NY 12180
ph: 518/271-0744, fax: 518/271-0745
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