The importance of local farms 

I’ve been in quite a few heated discussions lately about the importance of local farms not only in educating people how to eat healthier, but also (and especially) about the difference between mass produced farming and local farming. 


Let’s start with the mass production first. I am not opposed to GMOs, although using that term is about as confusing as the term global warming so let’s break down what I mean. Genetically modified organisms are actually a really good thing. My husband wouldn’t be able to afford insulin if it weren’t for the genetically modified bacteria that now makes it. What MOST people are talking about when they talk about GMOs are the round-up resistant strains. The ones that are made to have high yields and not be damaged by massive doses of herbicides. While I am not a fan of the prospect of ingesting these massive amounts of herbicides the thing that I am most concerned about is something completely different. These products are generally made without the concern for nutrient content. They are produced to be a filler. Most of these products that actually make it into human consumption are actually being used as some product in packaged foods. Packaged foods that have already been shown to hold little nutritional value. How do local farms come in?  Local farms tend to grow smaller quantities of food but with more variety. They also tend to grow plants that are naturally hardier with more nutritional value and flavor. If we were to focus on bringing more local produce to people we could increase the nutritional health of those who need it most. 

The second thing: educating people to eat better. There is a niche that is currently not being filler, or at least is slowely being filled. That is helping people realize the importance of eating better while also making these foods more readily available to the consumers who are unable to utilize them. This is a tricky subject that will involve much trial and error in our part. As I have observed in the past few years local farms tend to wait for people to come to them, visit a farmers market, etc.  which is great for consumers who have the time, energy, money, etc to invest in these thing. What about the families that don’t?  I would like to see more local farms coming together to bring their goods to a wider audience. Teaching people to eat better, teaching people the value of good nutrition, offering some kind of meal prep/ planning to help families who don’t have the time to eat better. I don’t understand why this can’t be a thing, and not only a thing but one that is spearheaded by the local farm industry. 

I honestly believe in the coming years we should, and hopefully will, see local farms become a major part of the food industry again. 

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Did I mention…

Did I mention we bought a tractor?  Do you remember the tractor we borrowed from our friend that we bought all the parts for?  He needed to sell it so we spent the money we were going to use to put in our well to buy the tractor. We have a really good plan for saving that money back up so we can still get it out in this year, it will just have to be a bit later than we had planned. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy it. It was a really good price and something we HAD to have in order to meet next years farm goals. I’m a bit giddy that we actually have a tractor of our very own. 

Becoming more self sufficient 

Last year we were able to bring down our grocery bill to $100 a week. That is feeding 5-6 people 3 meals a day plus snacks. Last week I reached our next milestone of $80. It’s in part to growing more food and a more diverse assortment of food this year. This is our meal list for the week:

Breakfast:

Pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, buttermilk biscuits, and bacon.

Lunch: 

Zucchini fritters, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, veggies with hummus, grilled veggie sandwiches, leftovers, pasta

Snacks:

Popcorn, sweet breads (pumpkin, zucchini, banana), Granola bars, macaroni and cheese

Dinners: 

Chicken pot pie (made with leftover chicken from the week before), spinach and mushroom white pizza, spaghetti squash marinara with roasted squash and garlic bread, veggie lasagna, tacos (we have tacos every Tuesday), tofu Tikka Masala, squash stuffed with Italian sausage. 


My grocery list:

Eggs ($1.09×2), flour ($3), butter ($3×2), mozerella ($5), buttermilk ($3), tofu ($1.69), milk ($4), Popcorn ($2.5), linguine ($1.25), tomatoes (2 cans x $.99), Annie’s Mac and cheese (on sale 3 X $1), .25 lbs chorizo sausage ($.98), bacon ($7.39), Simply lemonde (on sale 3x$2), organic lemon juice ($7.29), sour cream ($1), cocoa ($3.19), natural sugar ($1.99), cheddar cheese ($2.77), granola bars ($3.67, $3.29), bananas ($1.13). 

Total: $72.30. I also bought lunch for $5 and toilet paper which takes it up to just under $80. 

What I don’t need to buy and what it would cost to buy it from the farm or the store (*denotes something I already had bought) 

Spinach* ($1), spaghetti squash ($4), 3 yellow squash ($3), 3 zuchinni ($3), black beans* ($2), peanut butter* ($2.5), jelly ($2), hummus* ($2). That would bring it up to $100 for the week!  

Getting there!

Almost half of the outside where the tires go is level and ready. We have about another week of this before we start pounding dirt into tires!  I have to admit I’m a bit nervous. This is one of those “close you eyes and just jump in” moments. Once we start the tires we really have a goal of being complete in 3 months. I have a strong feeling that won’t happen but I am really hoping it does. I think if we work diligently on our days off and I lost people’s help we can do it. 

This past week we have focused on getting dirt moved around and leveled on that first like 1/3 of the house section. We also bought a thing that pounds dirt so that we won’t have as much of the sinking issue that we did with the concrete. I also made drainage ditches for the standing water that was around the other side of the house. That portion should actually dry out some now. 

I have also started collecting tires. So far we have almost 50. Another 850 to go!  

We haven’t pinned down a date but it looks like probably by the 15th of August we will have started in on this next round of the house.

Day 2

Due to the heat and the children I have only been able to do an hour a day of work on leveling the outside of the house. I’ve gotten a lot done though. Seven wheelbarrow loads of hard packed clay moved already and two small sections leveled. I think we will actually hit our goal. If nothing else I am going to be all muscle by the time we are done with the tires!


The time has come 

As of today we are going to be actively trying to get everything ready to start the tires. We still have to level the ground around the concrete slab and add the concrete where the door is going. Our (my) goal is to be working at least 2 hours a day (weather permitting) until the tires are complete. The ultimate goal is to start the tires the first or second week in August. We will also be needing a lot of help (although we expect this to be completed with no help at all). We need people to help level the ground, pound tires, fill wheelbarrows with dirt for the tires, and the most important is we always need help watching the kids. If you would like to offer help in any way, shape, or form please Let us know!  Also to all of our friends please be patient with us for the rest of 2016. We may not see much of you and for that I am sorry but rest assured that we should be back in full force in 2017! 

Starting to come in

The vegetables are starting to come in!  We have been weeding everyday for 30 min to an hour and it’s finally starting to pay off!  We harvested our first potatoes of the year and also two spaghetti squash, some various peppers, and a couple tomatoes. I’m the next week we should have pumpkins, more spaghetti squash, zucchini, yellow squash, beans, and cucumber.this is quite exciting!!

Starting to come in

The vegetables are starting to come in!  We have been weeding everyday for 30 min to an hour and it’s finally starting to pay off!  We harvested our first potatoes of the year and also two spaghetti squash, some various peppers, and a couple tomatoes. I’m the next week we should have pumpkins, more spaghetti squash, zucchini, yellow squash, beans, and cucumber.this is quite exciting!!

Blackberries

The blackberries have started to ripen. We picked the last 3 days. There are still so many that haven’t ripened yet, but from those that have we have picked 1.5 gallons of them. I’m very happy. We are selling them in 6oz and 10oz containers and we will be making preserves and blackberry lime compote this weekend. The farm has officially made its first sales which makes me even more happy!! 

We also have a ton of pie pumpkins and spaghetti squash growing now as well. I a very very pleased. 

On to the next thing

It is done. After a year of talking about doing it the concrete is done. We had a dry week, fantastic weather, and plenty of amazing, awesome, beyond fantastic friends to help. We paid them in pizza and beer. At 8:30am I called the concrete people to give the go ahead to deliver it at 10am, then called C to freak out about it actually happening. Almost everyone was there at 9am prepping for the concrete. Then the concrete trucks arrived. 
We all stood around with our rakes waiting for it to come shooting out. Then it was on! 

We had originally ordered 3 trucks (24 cubic yards) of concrete but after the second we realized we were going to need one more truck, making the grand total 32 cubic yards. That cut a little into our budget and I wasn’t pleased about it, but it had to be done. So be it. 

We finally figured out on the fourth truck that we could have him pull around the back to fill the back area better. That made it a lot easier. I wish we had thought of that on the second truck. 

We started screeding the concrete before all of the trucks had finished pouring but there was such a long wait before the last two trucks that the concrete started to dry too fast. I didn’t get a picture of the final product yet but the top isn’t as pretty as we were hoping. Pretty or not it is still a usable floor. After we finish the outer structure and put in the walls we will finish the floors with Portland cement and sand mix to make it nice and smooth and pretty like we wanted. Regardless of how it looks like now I am thrilled. I am beyond thrilled. We have a floor. We can finally start pounding tires. But first we take a break. In the next week or two I will be announcing plans for starting on tires. Stay tuned!!!