Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #9, 4/18/18

What’s been going on!

Another sad passing and tick of the clock.  Sunday there was a huge gathering of the friends and community of Tony Kleese to celebrate his life and accomplishments.  Tony died way too young after a short battle with cancer but also after a life full of commitment to building a better agricultural system which you can read about here.

Tony was not quite as old as many of us old rats in the sustainable ag barn but quickly jumped in and became involved in so many areas.  We first met around 1989 when he was starting a farm east of Raleigh and we went to see it on a farm tour.  That farm did not succeed and he also farmed in the mountains for a while but he quickly learned that the best use of his energies was to organize and teach farmers.

We worked together on many projects over the years including the Board of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Assoc., teaching classes at and helping to form the Central Carolina Community College Sustainable Ag program, teaching workshops around the southeast together and he was the one who coaxed me into going to Jamaica to work with his Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise project.  He even worked for us here on the farm for a short while in the early 90’s.

As many of us who, mostly inadvertently, helped lead the way to a more local and sustainable food system begin to age out or pass on it becomes ever more apparent just how fortunate we are in the southeast and particularly in North Carolina to have such a foundation of farmers, non-profits, researchers, organizers, markets and eaters who began to come together in the 80’s and work towards change.  Tony was certainly in that vanguard and will be sorely missed but his energy and spirt will live on.

Picture of the Week

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Classic Tony (in the middle) working with Jamaican farmers

 What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vo. 14 #13, 5/10/17

What’s been going on!

We had a good visit last Friday when Josh Volk the farmer/author of Compact Farms, his new book from Storey Publishing that we are honored to be included in, stopped by the farm.  Focusing on farms under 5 acres in production it is an interesting look at how these small operations are putting it all together in different parts of the country.  There is a mix of young farms and old established ones.

As you walk around the Farmers’ Market, with many of the booths filled with the same kinds of produce, it is hard to know how things are done on each farm and how it looks out there.  That is part of the reason we have written this newsletter for 14 years is to give you a peek at what daily/weekly farm life is like.

There is always change in the farm community and it is particularly evident in the newer small farms coming along.  When we developed our systems we had to invent the wheel in some ways as small scale tools were not really available, similarly there was little information on how to farm sustainably.  Now there is a plethora of information, sources and inputs that we could only dream about.

In all businesses there is a tension between sustainability and profits, especially so on a farm where we are managing a natural resource.  We have always tended toward the former to ensure some of the latter.  Newer farms, under pressure to generate dollars to pay for loans and improvements, tend to use more disposable plastics and rely on convenient bagged fertility sources or commercial compost that really were not available to us decades ago.

While we tweak our systems all the time we are happy with how we have put our pieces together and have been successful in building a sustainable operation which, we think, is why we are still in business after all these years and have been able to bring Jennie on as a partner to carry those ideals forward.  As my good southern Mother used to say “there is more than one way to skin a cat(fish)”, we like to think our way is best.

Picture of the Week

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Spring flowers in a nutshell, delphinium and campanula on the way, poppies on the wane

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #7, 3/8/13

What’s been going on!

Remarkably busy week with lectures, tour groups, teaching, interviews, a conference and oh yeah, that farming thing we do out here.  Betsy had a good and tiring trip to Texas for an Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) regional meeting and a visit with our good friends and compatriots the Arnosky’s of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.  Betsy first met Pamela at an ASCFG meeting in the early 90’s and the two quickly realized we had been traveling the same road in two different states.  Both farms started with nothing but a dream and through perseverance and our “too dumb to quit” attitude became successful.  Now every few years we find ways to get together and commiserate (and have fun too).

I had an interesting meeting with the new dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at NC State.  A group of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) met with him to discuss on-going strategic planning processes for both CEFS and CALS and how we can all work together.  Nice and bright guy, Dean Linton, but we got onto the topic of what the definition of sustainable agriculture is.  This used to come up all the time back in the day but less so now unless someone is trying to co-opt the concept.  It was defined by Congress back in the 1990 Farm bill when the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) of the USDA was being authorized.  Most of us working in the field now consider it the “legal” definition.  I said that not only was there this legal definition but that essentially every person and group I talked to now knew that sustainability has three tenets- environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible.  If most of the public now embraces this concept it will be difficult to change it now.

We did manage to get a lot of plants and seed into the ground but still have more to do just to get caught up.  Six more beds of lettuce, the first carrots, beets and broccoli raab, the first four of 10 beds (at least) of onions.  Hopefully most of the rest of the onions will go in today.  Jennie and Liz also extracted the bent Haygrove legs we need to replace so we can finally reconstruct the Big Tops that were damaged in last July’s storm.  It is good to have the staff begin work again.

Picture of the Week

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A bright and windy March day, overwintered greens flanked by newly seeded crops protected by row cover to help germination

What’s going to be at the market?

Another cool start on Saturday but a fast warm up.

Maybe the last of the winter potato- Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes).  A little more Spinach.  Maybe a bit of Lacinato Kale but for sure beautiful tender and sweet Collards.  Still plenty of sweet Carrots.

More and more of the brilliant and amazing Anemones not as many this week, too much consistent cold weather.

As a reminder if there is anything that you would like for us to hold for you at market just let us know by e-mail, by the evening before, and we will be glad to put it aside for you.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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