Monday, August 21, 2023

Moving Forward

The Pioneer Grove team has made its maiden presentation! 

This past Monday night, before the Balch Springs City Council, Brandon, Ivan and I gave a brief overview our plans. After giving a brief history of the farm, its various past events, programs and other community involvement, I introduced the team.

There was a short power point presentation given, (while it wasn’t visible to viewers on line, you should be able to see it here and follow along), while Brandon and Ivan described the project and its benefits to the community that would come as a result of its inception. 

There was only one council member with any questions, it was regarding types of businesses they could expect, should the project be approved. 
We re-iterated the types of businesses we’d be interested in pursuing for the commercially zoned portion of the property, as outlined in the presentation. (Agricultural, artisanal, farm to fork, etc.) I mentioned that there was even a BS Chamber of Commerce member interested in starting a small business enterprise on the property once the farm house was renovated/restored. 

So, it’s time now to tie up a few internal things and continue the pursuit of engineers, the filling out of planning applications for re-zoning with the City, and continue to interview potential sub contractors that would contribute some of the various aspects of the project. 

For instance, last week we spoke to an alternative energy planner who designs solar projects for communities and commercial uses. 

Solar and/or wind energy are on my list of priorities of features for the community. I would like to find a way to economically include energy self sufficiency to each residential unite and to the community itself, via a solar “farm”. As well as topping all of the viable roofs with panels, wind is also an alternative option here, as there’s little to stop the wind from the north or the south and at one time. I actually had a small wind turbine helping power the irrigation for the farm before a storm took it out.

This coming week, we’ll visit with an outfit that blazes trails, so to speak. 
We have walking/biking trails planned throughout the community, as well as on the back acre which will tie in to the City’s existing park trail. Ours is planned to be a permeable type, so that water drains through it, reducing the run off from heavy rains and preserving the natural flow of things as much as possible. It also looks cool, and with the grass that will grow through it, it should help keep the temps a little cooler, too!

As far as a timeline, we hope to have the zoning process wrapped up by the end of this year, and then we can start really working to secure serious pre-sales, investors, and any subsequent loans we’ll need. 

I’ll also be on the lookout for a few farmers. 
Part of the plan is for me to be able to more or less hang up my hoe. At least professionally. I'm not sure I will ever give up playing in the dirt entirely. But, I would like to find someone who has some farming experience, to hand the torch to, to keep the farm going. Maybe there’s a family out there who can’t find land to buy, or is about to get kicked off their leased land and needs a place to farm. I'm sure the right fit will be found. 

The farmers will be responsible for supplying the shares for the CSA members, as well as helping keep up the common areas, which, by design won’t require much. We’re looking at some various models including providing housing or reduced rent, depending on the situation. 

A  smooth and efficient transition will be important to maintain the flow of the current CSA and supply produce for new members as the houses of the development fill up with new folks. Additionally, we’ll be working to re-open Eden’s Organic Market Days, and so it would be great to have farmers who can produce some food for that, as well. But, we’re in the early stages, yet. So we’re still thinking out loud and looking at other project models to come up with ours. 

But bringing back the organic farmer’s market would be awesome. All farmers/ranchers and artisans, to me, is a real farmer’s market. And for nearly 10 years, it was to our loyal customers, too. The City of Balch Springs residents have indicated they'd be interested in one during recent long term city planning meetings. I would love nothing more than to see it make a comeback!

Well, that’s really about it for now. 
I just want to keep up with things, track them as they happen as much as possible. 
It’s way too hot to plant right now - triple digits is no time to transplant things, even if I could prep the soil. But it’s about like a desert out there with no end in sight. We’re hoping for some rain so I can do one more short mowing before turning the soil over and adding compost, amendments and then bed up the rows and get a late fall garden started. 

Until then, it’s trying to stay cool, trying to guess at when to start seeds in flats so they’re at the right size to go in the ground, and dreaming of cooler temps and landscapes for the new project. I wish we could simply plop the houses down on top of what is there, but I know in my heart that's not what's gonna happen. Preserving the trees is one thing, getting rid of the ragweed, "goat-heads" and other thorny/stickery natives, to make way for native wildflowers, perennials and shade trees, is another.

Here’s hoping your gardens will rebound and provide abundance once again!


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

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