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

  • From: Mikal Baker <freeker5@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: microfarmer@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 22:43:35 -0800 (PST)


David Parkinson <parkidavid@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:  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!

--
David

  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!




-- 
David 

       
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