[microfarmer] Re: My unofficial Microfarmer forum 2008-02-24 recap

  • From: "David Parkinson" <parkidavid@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: microfarmer@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 19:28:08 -0800

Thanks, Tajh.

I'd like to say a big thanks to you folks for organizing the event &
contributing so much positive energy and thoughts during the course of the
day. I really want to see more connection between lower & upper Sunshine
Coast, and I'll do what I can to make that happen. We have a huge amount in
common, as you all know.

Looking forward to the next opportunity to swap notes!


On Sun, Feb 24, 2008 at 7:59 PM, Tajh Leitso <tajh@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I would like to thank the performers for their great shows, and thank
> Robin for organizing the forum as well as being a great MC.  The
> facilities were very comfortable, and conveniently located near some
> gardening areas!
> Today's Microfarmer forum started with a presentation called
> "Improving Marginal Soil" by Alain B.  This was incredibly valuable to
> me since I considered our dirt to be marginal soil, but it turns out
> that we really just have sand - and marginal soil is what I used to
> consider beautiful topsoil. He covered various composting, mulching,
> and organic fertilizing techniques.  Basically the solution to my soil
> issues will require the addition of clay and compost to my dirt in the
> hopes changing it from sand into soil.  He briefly touched on the soil
> testing process for getting your farm certified organic, and included
> a photocopy of the initial soil test report for his farm.  It was
> mentioned that Alfalfa pellets are an extremely efficient fertilizer
> for the garden, and that someone in the creek has several extra bags
> of organic alfalfa pellets they are selling for a very good price.
> Robin W. mentioned a couple of local labour resources that are
> available to small farms.  One is mental health patients who are
> individually matched with you and your task.  Another labour resource
> involved high school kids that learn about growing food by helping to
> grow the food.
> Introducing Non Timber Forest Products with Tim B. from Royal Roads
> University.  Seeing the forest beneath the trees:
> http://cntr.royalroads.ca/
>   He discussed the large market ($100 million) for NTFP's that was
> mostly composed of holiday wreaths/decorations and forest mushrooms.
> The holiday wreath business seems like somewhat viable winter pastime
> for farmers, requiring a $2000 machine for wrapping the wreaths,
> resulting in the capacity of building lots of $10-$50 wreaths per day.
> There is a nice buyer and sellers guide at http://www.buybcwild.com/
> I thought I heard him say that they would be glad to add anyone
> selling NTFP's to the list...
> Delicious lunch - I went back for seconds...  and then Robin gently
> coaxed us back inside out of the sun after lunch - it was similar to
> herding cats!
> Improving Farm Efficiency/Winter Veggies with Marika N. from Sooke
> BC.  She shared many great tips on what, when, and how to plant winter
> crops.  One great idea stood out for me: they have local calendar
> sharing workshops, where local farmers get together and discuss what
> plants they start growing and most importantly when.  Marika
> recommended having three experienced growers copy their calendars for
> everyone, and then everyone can use those a discussion starter.
> Perhaps this is something that could be incorporated into future Seedy
> Saturdays?  I am relatively new to "farming" and any crop schedules
> that are specific to this part of the coast would be extremely
> helpful.  I guess we just have to wait for Robin's next book to come
> out ;).
> We also got a demonstration of soil blocking, where you use a nifty
> device to make soil blocks (like ice cubes) that you place in a tray
> (48 per) and then deposit seeds into automatically prepared
> depressions in the top of each block.  Soil blockers at Johnny's
> Selected Seeds:
> http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/subcategory.aspx?category=292&subcategory=616
> After the plants are established the blocks separated very easily for
> transplanting.  We also got to take home samples of the certified
> organic seeds they produce over at http://fullcircleseeds.com/
> She also displayed a couple of excellent book resources: "Year-Around
> Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast by Linda Gilkeson (
> http://www.saltspringseeds.com/catalog/books.cfm
>  ) with great information on timing winter crops, and "Park's Success
> with Seeds" by Ann Reilly (out of print) - great book with colour
> pictures of the plants as tiny seedlings.
> Microclimating and space efficiency on a small farm by Robin W.  The
> concept is simply brilliant in that you just keep an eye out for
> various conditions around your yard specifically for zones that would
> be more ideal for growing types of plants and moving the plants from
> your garden to that location.  e.g. The hot dry zone by the south side
> of your house would be well suited to supporting your mediterranean
> herbs that need dry hot conditions for optimal growth.
> The Pros and Cons of Value Added - D'Arcy D. C.  We got to hear about
> D'Arcy's blueberry farm dreams, which spurred a lively discussion
> about small growers and the ever tightening regulations surrounding
> small scale agriculture and the looming danger of a major dependence
> on Agro-Bandits.  Several people mentioned that the "Omnivores
> Dilemma" by Michael Pollan  ( http://www.michaelpollan.com/
> omnivore.php ) discusses these topics.
>  "What's at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our
> children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains
> life on earth."
> It was nice to meet and interact with a group of really nice people
> that are all on similar wavelengths, thank you all for coming to the
> forum!


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