Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2003 - Beginning Farmers

It was November 2002 when Rebecca and I landed at the farm for good. Before we came back we drove out to SF to pick up the last of her stuff there. The trip included a wonderful tour of the Southwest and many of our National Parks.

Monument Valley campsite: butte-i-ful
When we arrived, the farm looked much different than it is today. The barn was precariously leaning south, with one of it's main attributes being a tree that was keeping it from toppling. Years of debris were accumulated inside.

The house had a way to go to be the comfortable abode we now live in. We had electricity and an indoor toilet. Some other amenities took awhile to build reliability into, such as water. Suffice it to say that, as of today, we have pretty much removed every bit of carpet, plaster, lath, plumbing, doors, windows and wiring that was in the house when we moved in.

The house when we moved in
Farming wise we had two main pieces of infrastructure to put in place---a greenhouse and a cooler. With the help of Rebecca's father John, we broke ground for the greenhouse in late January 2003. Since that day John's help, support and experienced voice he provided has been immeasurable. We surely would not be where we are today without his energy and Clay County wisdom. Thanks John.

Building the greenhouse
The greenhouse was not yet complete when it came time to start seeds that first year, so our house temporarily filled that niche. I shudder sometimes when I see pictures like this and think about the remodeling that was yet to be started back then.

Seedlings and house construction
In April my Mom visited the farm. Having left the corporate world and (what could be perceived as) thrown away 2 college degrees, she could have been quite anxious at the path her son was taking. But, as was her nature, she could see only the best in all we were doing and by the time she died in 2007 knew that Rebecca and I were happy, healthy and legitimately following our dreams. Her gift to us in 2003 was our spader, a key component to the health of our farm's soil. Thanks Mom.

Tom, Mom, spader and Rebecca's family tractor (aka Grandpa)
In the fields we took advantage of a Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Award grant of $3,000 to begin our biological farming practices. This included buying a manure spreader, putting down gypsum on all the fields to increase calcium levels in the soil and help balance the pH, and initiating our cover cropping system. Thanks State of Missouri. Don't know why you had to cancel a program that helps small farms establish themselves and provide for the community.

Spreading gypsum
While it was hot and dry that year, we did not know just how droughty it was. It was a good lesson though, as we came to expect such hot, dry weather as the norm. As the crops grew and we harvested them, we went to two markets: Liberty Farmers Market and the River Market Organic Market.

The fields, June of our first year

It was at these locations that we established a name, and convinced people that they should sign up for our CSA the following year. Little did we know when we met the Barths, the Flynns, Stacey Cook, Rick Robson, and Kelly Parker that we would get to experience the last 10 years together. Happy Anniversary guys.

From our photo album---our first harvests
We finished the season with the 2004 CSA in mind. Lots of planning, infrastructure improvements and home remodeling filled the rest of the year. We were on our way, ready to grow.


Liz said...

YEAH & congratulations to the both of you!!!! You have accomplished so much in the last 10 years. And you're feeding and keeping healthy so many families in your community. Here's to another 10 wonderful years ahead of you!
Hugs & cheers.... Liz, Katie & Sylvia

Emily said...

Love this history - you guys are amazing!