A little over a week ago, I dove head first into unchartered territory and began this farm’s first venture in #crowdfunding by way of Indiegogo, in order to raise a fairly large sum to pay for needed upgrades. It has been, and continues to be, quite exciting – just this week, a long time, very generous farm supporter issued an amazing “challenge” to others watching the campaign. She’s matching dollar for dollar any contribution that comes in, up to $5,000! Yet, running a month-long, on-line fund raiser has also been, and continues to be, a lot of work, with all of the emails, press releases, hash-tagging, and social media blitzing required to get out the word.
But without conventional means of income, it’s pretty tough to walk up to a banker, even my friendly home-town type, and take out a loan for anything - much less an after market front-end loader for a used tractor, a walk-in cooler and an ice machine. That’s pretty much how crowdfunding got started. People needed help pushing their potentially unconventional thoughts & ideas forward, so they turned to other like-minded folks en masse - grande.
And like many small business owners, farmers, it seems, are sometimes in need of this or that. And once we have “it”, we often wonder how in the world we ran a farm before we did. As much as I don’t want to use fossil fuel, (and I use it as infrequently as I can), at this stage in the farm’s development, on a 1-woman farm, it’s a necessary evil. With biodiesel only 15 miles away, at least I’m sort of green when I run the tractor. But I long for the day when ol’ JD only gets fired up to turn compost piles.
And turning compost piles, is the main reason to acquire a front-end loader for the tractor – at least for me. Sure, it’s going to make short of other tasks as well, such as carrying things around here that outweigh me. I’d like to still be able to walk and stand upright when I am 80.
But the ability to make one’s own living, breathing, compost source, could very well be one of the most significant advances for any small farm or homestead. It’s what could afford one to become nearly, totally, self sustaining. And that my friends, is one of the beauties of what organic farming is to me. Not having to trek to the store, or in my case the warehouse, each and every season to stock up on bags of commercially processed organic fertilizer and bottles of liquid this and that, is an important goal to have for truly sustainable agriculture to be realized.
I understand we live in a commercial society where everyone has to make a living, buying and selling things. And there’s always going to be some “stuff” we all buy so becoming “self sufficient” isn’t going to hurt the economy. Heavens, a garden center is one of the most glorious places to visit on Earth! I’ll always find my way to them and opening one was my first venture into owning a small business.
However, when did it become necessary for us to stock up on hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of soil amendments to put on our gardens each year in order to grow food? Well, I’ll tell you what I believe....
When we stripped them of topsoil in order to get rid of “weeds” – or worse, we doused them with poisons to do the job.
When we stopped replenishing our soils with what was already present on the farm – or nearby.
When we found a "miracle" in a bag, jar or bottle.
When we got lazy, or too “busy”.
If you’ve ever watched Nature, you know she’s not lazy. Now she doesn’t work really hard either, and yet while she’s always “busy”, she’s busy working smartly. She stacks dead things on top of each other, adds water, leaves it lying there for animals to kick around and poop on, mix up and smoosch all down into the soil, and whalah – compost!
Now granted, this method takes many years because it’s not heated up just laying there on the forest floor. But pick up a scoop of fresh soil off of the floor in the woods next time you’re hiking – and lift it up to your nose. I think it's one of the most wonderful scents you’ll ever experience. You can’t create that commercially and stick it in a bag.There are laws against it. No, really.
But, you can create it on your farm, or in your backyard, and spread it out over your crops or gardens. And if you can do that, consistently, I submit to you at some point, you’ll make your last necessary trip down the aisle of packaged "miracles" at the local garden store.
The insects will be more in check. Moisture will be less evasive because there’s ample organic matter in the soil to retain it, therefore reducing the need for this precious resource - as we enter our 5th year of drought. Weeds will become less invasive because the soil’s biology will begin to balance out and support higher forms of life, instead of desperately just trying to cover itself with whatever will grow there to keep from eroding away. Namely grass burs, Bermuda grass and fire ants.
Compost. It’s about balance. It’s about permaculture. It’s about working smarter, not harder. And that means working with Nature, not against her. Save that money you'd spend on "miracles", for cool new plants, more seeds, ceramic gnomes and fun baskets to share your bounty with friends. Compost Happens. And it makes your garden grow. Really well.
Thank you to all who have pitched in to help make this farm’s garden grow throughout our 5 years, and in this current on-line crowd funding drive. It better enables me to offer more real, food grown with integrity, to southeast Dallas County’s community where I live. And if you'd like to be part of the crowd - check out our campaign here.
I hope you'll all join us on Nov. 7th here at the farm for a little get together. It's the count down to the end of this campaign, as well as an early Veterans Day tribute with a mini film festival. Terra Firma, and time and weather permitting, Ground Operations will both be DFW area premiered on our big, outdoor, barn screen.
Eat Your Food - Naturally!