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The Design Plan, Implementation, and the First Sow…

February 27, 2012

With three properties and one pending within the East Portland metro area, I am in the details of design and plan, all the while still gathering and preparing.  Being a Sag, details are not my forte, but I am doing my best to become the detailed planner I know I can be.  The propagation, sowing, and transplanting all need to be timed providing a variety of vegetables throughout the season. This means successional planting and planning as well. With 3 to 4 properties, this process is a bit tricky. Well, one property is designated for raspberries, so this leaves 2 to 3 properties and the bulk of the square footage. Combine both raised beds and rows and now you can visualize the somewhat complicated designing and planning process. Oh, and add soil and compost storage areas at, hopefully two of the properties as well.

For the Portlanders (or those in the surrounding area), the neighborhoods where Mama Tee’s produce will grow are Brentwood-Darlington, Creston-Kenilworth, and Parkrose Heights. The fourth, which is still pending, is in the Cully neighborhood.  Please get in touch with me at mamateesfarm@gmail.com if you are interested in a CSA share for the season and I will send you more information.  The first box of produce starts in late May and the season will run through October. Don’t know what a CSA is?  Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a local model for the production and distribution of food. It’s a direct farmer to individual (eater) relationship, where the individual subscribes to the farm early in the season and then receives weekly or bi-weekly (depending on the terms of the subscription) shares or boxes of the vegetables and/or fruits (or meats, eggs, milk, etc., depending on what the farm produces) during the harvest season. They can also participate in member-only activities such as farm tours, discounted workshop prices, and end-of-the-season farm parties.  This benefits the individual because they know exactly where and who their food comes from, they receive the freshest, local food available that hasn’t spent days in a truck at the bottom of a 50 lb crate, and they help their local economy and meet other members of the community. It benefits the farmer because the farmer receives support up front, early in the season when the costs are highest, can concentrate more on growing quality vegetables (food) during the season instead of marketing, and the farmer gets to know the community and individuals that eat their food on a personal basis. CSA farmers almost always (or should always) grow a variety of vegetables and use diversified farming methods which decrease risk of crop failure/s and is a strong sustainable model for good stewardship of the land as well.  A win-win for everyone!

Mama Tee’s Farmstead will not only be offering a large variety of vegetables in this year’s CSA, but will also be offering fruit, fruit preserves, pickled vegetables, dried vegetables and fruits, and maybe even some sauerkraut! Several workshops are in the making, a collaborative Farm to Fork dinner with a meat CSA is being discussed, and, of course, an end-of-the-year bash on one of the properties can be expected.

Seeds of all the greens, lettuces, Brassica’s (Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc), peas, and some herbs were sown in the seed flats last Thursday and Friday!  I planned to use just the commercial soil mix, but the experimenter in me is trying to spice it up a bit with some other ingredients to hopefully come up with a good Mama Tee’s starter soil mix for the future. I will also be selling starts in 6 packs and flats starting in April (this is separate from the CSA). Starting a garden? Contact me!

The first of Mama Tee's seed. Can you guess the species? Grow big and strong little one.

The hoop house filled with the first sown seeds of the season.

This week is a busy one. I’ll be taking on and taking out a lot of grass at the Parkrose Heights and Brentwood properties. Hand work and a push tiller will both be involved to prepare beds for the greens, lettuces, strawberries, carrots, radishes, peas, kale, chard, and cabbage. Whether or not the Cully property will be growing Mama Tee’s produce should be decided this week.  Also, the website content is coming along and should see some movement in the next couple weeks. And, I continue to discuss with the landowners about the possibility of growing on the acre in Oregon City. The water infrastructure issue has been a slow process and I might only be able to grow, if any, a small amount of vegetables (1/3rd acre or less) on this property this year. Mainly due to the cost of putting in a large rainwater catchment infrastructure.

One last note: I had the pleasure of attending the OSU Small Farms Conference in Corvallis, OR this past weekend with 900 other farmers, food advocates and activists, chefs, farmer market’s managers, and others who care deeply about seeing the small, sustainable farm movement pick up speed. I met some lovely new people from the Portland area and throughout the state, absorbed a huge amount of information about farming in Oregon, got to ride down on a bus with several women farmers, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The keynote speaker, Kristin Kimball, a farmer and writer who owns a 500 hundred acre, draft horse-powered, 170 CSA member farm in upstate NY with her husband, read from her book about her first chaotic year farming during her presentation. Even on a smaller scale, I can already relate and ended up taking one of her workshops later in the day. I will leave you with one of her quotes about farming:  ” The only guarantee on the farm is that something will always go wrong.” And, when it does, Wendell Berry would still say: “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2012 12:20 am

    Shoot! had I known you were on the bus I would have made an effort to connect with you. I am all wound up about water harvesting right now, we would have a lot to talk about…..good luck with your CSA season,

    cheers,
    Laura

  2. February 28, 2012 2:26 am

    Congrats, Carrie, looking good! I love the little seed photo. The ribes you gave me last fall, and I planted on Toonie’s gravesite is leafing out and blooming beautifully already! Here’s to a wonderful summer, to sowing and reaping, to infrastructure and water catchment, and to Wendell Berry!

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