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Why We Farm – 2014.05.01

We had another amazing Farm Tour & Plant Sale here last Saturday. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of the people who made it a part of their weekend to learn about how we grow and why we think organic farming is critical for human and environmental health.

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After the tour, we realized we accidentally skipped a component that we usually include in our tours: Why We Farm. As in, what got us into this business? This story is important to us, and shapes our work.

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We both grew up on the East Coast but moved to the Pacific NorthWest after graduating from college. There we met, fell in love with Real food (food straight from the ground, unprocessed and amazing), an agrarian life, and ultimately with each other. Fortunately, we also fell into a community rich with small-scale, organic agriculture.

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From there we moved to New England, working for a couple different small, organic vegetable farms. Everywhere we lived, we continued to grow organic food, learn more about vegetable and flower production, and contemplate the potential for us to one day farm full-time.

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We moved to Virginia in 2006, wanting to be closer to Janet’s family, settle down, start a family, and pursue our farming prospects. We got office jobs for a wonderful nearby non-profit organization while we began studying small, organic farm business plans (not easy to find!), the market potential in the Richmond area (unsure but hopefully positive), and (honestly), scrambling for downpayment money on the 5 acre parcel we wanted. In 2008 we purchased this land. In 2009 we cleared it. In 2010 we planted cover crops, feeling more certain of the business potential of what we wanted to do. In 2011, Dan reduced his office job to half-time. On April 2, 2011, we sold our first vegetables.

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In 2012 Dan quit his off-farm job completely, and Janet reduced her off-farm job to half-time. Vegetables have grown, weeds have grown, we have had sever drought, we have had flooding. More trees have been cleared, more vegetables planted, we’ve added a small crew to help us. Children have grown, children have been born, we have learned ever-more about soil science, diagnosing and treating problems, and improving efficiency of systems. Each year we have grown more and more vegetables.

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Our farming is an expression of our environmental ethic, our citizenry, and our passion for health. Customers and crew members have each made us cry with what kind words they say about the impact of our work on their lives. We are flattered and humbled that people depend upon us for an important part of their sustenance. The work is hard, often uncertain, and we know we still have more to learn. Like any small business, the road to financial sustainability feels long, but we feel confident that we are making the right decisions to allow us to still be growing vegetables for this community 20 years from now. And we know that the way we farm – the way we treat the soil, the watershed, the insects, and ourselves as farmworkers – allows our system to be sustainable so that nourishing vegetables can continue to be grown here for many generations.

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We farm so that our community has the option to choose healthful vegetables, grown very nearby using only biological methods. The food and the work nourishes us, our crew, and our family. Thanks for being part of the experience.

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This Week’s Harvest:

(Market Share CSA Members may place orders. All that remains after ordering will be available for sale at the South of the James Market on Saturday.)  
Arugula, Asian Spinach (small amounts – suffered significant frost damage), Chard, Hearty Mix, Kale, Lettuce – Little Gems, Microgreens, Pac Choi, Radishes, Salad Mix, Spinach, Spring Onions (Scallions), Turnips (sweet Hakurei), Transplants for your garden (Arugula, Cabbage, Chard, Collards, Lettuce, Kale, Scallions, Spinach, Tomatoes)…plus Pepper Jelly, and our Naturally Leavened, Hearth Baked Bread.     (Not all transplants can be listed in our online store. If you want a plant not listed, please indicate in the notes section.)

Recipe Suggestions:
Honey Balsamic Salad Dressing – made interesting with soy sauce
Spaghetti with Scallion Sauce
Korean Scallion Pancakes
Roasted Hakurei Turnips with Israeli Couscous

We continue at the South of the James market this weekend in Forest Hill Park, from 8am – 12pm on Saturday, and the Brandermill Green Market in Market Square opens for the season, from 9am – 12pm. 

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In the Media: 
Plants Talk, Plants Listen
 – fascinating article, reflecting important points we have learned recently about plant health.

Upcoming Event at Broadfork:

Spring Farm Tour
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Guided Tour at 3:00
Family friendly. No RSVP or fee required. Please – no pets.
Driving directions are found on our Events page.

2014 Market Share CSA Members: Choose your selection through our Online Store to order for pick up on Saturday at our farm, at the Brandermill Green Market , or at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park from 9-12pm.

Everyone else: Please sign up for our 2014 Market Share CSA and start placing orders now. Our Farm Share CSA begins next Wednesday, May 7. Our Farm Stand will open up again once there is sufficient produce to stock it.

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