Re: organic farming

Hi Frank:

Well, work flow and yield flow are related.  They are indeed quite variable
from region to region and place to place, subject to just about every force
that affects a farm from market prices to labor costs to soil conditons to
farmer skill.  You shouldn't accept any SPECIFIC advice you get on these
issues over the net.  Not knowing even what part of the world your farm is
in, I can't even generalize.  

Given that these are very site-sensitive issues, the only way for me to give
sound advice would be to visit you on a consuting basis, which, frankly,
doesn't sound reasonable given limited cash flow.  Not that it wouldn't be
worth it in the long run, but it sounds like cash flow in the short run is
also vital. In any case, bearing in mind that you probably won't get someone
sympathetic with all your views on growing, nonetheless the way to go is to
get as much as you can from cooperative extension service, if you are in the
USA, and whatever your government offers for on-farm help if elsewhere. 

With permaculture, in such a circumstance I usually offer to host a worshop
or course on site.  I'm not sure that I would call this a permaculture design
question, except in a very transitional sort of way.  It could be treated as
a permaculture problem, invloving a much more wholistic view of the land and
the people on it than we have gotten into.  Anyway, I can discuss this
further with you offline if you are interested.  

Two general references on yields are John Jeavons How to Grow More..., which
is outstanding as it gives exact planting instructions and a range of yields,
unless it has changed a lot in recent editions.  This is probably the best
book on growing food in raised beds in the English language.  There is also
Knotts Handbook for Vegetable Growers, published by Wiley-Interscience, if
they still put it out.  (My copy is a 1980 edition.)  They give a lot of
information an organic gardener doesn't want to know, a bit of information
that you need to interpret for it to be useful (even essential), and stuff
like yield data that is essential.  

Without experience, you don't know if the main picking of Commodore string
bean (tops for yield and flavor in my opinion) will be ready in the nominal
60 days or maybe as early as 55 days or as late as 75 days, depending on a)
when you plant, b) your farm soil conditions which will change over time, c)
the climate that year, and d) how much attention you give them.  If you have
been farming regularly, you know that some years you are always playing
catchup and other years you feel like a wizard because you have been on top
of every task from day of germination of the first seed.  (If all your years
feel like catch up, cut back on the area you manage intensively and you will
experience a total increase in yields.)  Its an art, and if you don't have
the soul of an artist, sell to the bulk market at the going rate when the
stuff is ready.  

Finally, let me restate one concern and make one additional suggestion.  

My concern is that you want a lot of people driving back and forth to your
farm.  This sounds like economic good sense, the American way (with
apologizes if you are from elsewhere), etc.  But it is damn unsustainable.
 As it stands with the present system of food production in North America,
for example, the largest energy input into the family meal, aside from
cooking, is not the tractor or the fertilizer, or the transport 1300 miles
from farm to supermarket, it is the transport of the little bag of groceries
in a large car.  If one were only able to address one area of sustainability
in the food system, that would be it.  It really is a serious matter if you
are really serious about sustainability.

Secondly, I recommend managing only the land that you are sure you can manage
well and giving the rest over to animals.  Laying hens are particularly nice
as they can be turned into the garden where you have finished with a crop to
clean it up for you.  People really like fresh, free range eggs.  And
chickens lay most during the growing season so your marketing is made more

Well, I could go on all morning, but I have a place to run.  This is as far
as I want to go on this thread, right now, unless you want to email me about
a workshop, etc.  We also have a driectory, TRIP (The Resources of
International Permaculture) that has about 2070 groups listed, many of which
might have answers to some of your questions.

For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now correspondence
permaculture training by email. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O.
Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA  YankeePerm@aol.com  

We don't have time to rush.

In a message dated 1/7/97 7:13:56 AM, FranksFarm wrote:

>Hello, Dan 
>Thanks for sharing your post to Andrew with the list.
>i can sense from your posts that we share many of the same ideas.
>I've been a long time reader of OG, Countryside, and a have read widely on
>farming, biodynamic farming, and what I can find on permaculture.
>I agree with Bill Mollison's concepts , and also the need for holistic
>I'm trying to turn my farm into a showcase/education center for sustainable
>Though I may be better versed than Andrew in the methods..your sage, and
>advice is well noted. I, too, have come to the conclusion that unless you
can market
>directly to the customer, and achieve a reasonable return on your labor ala
>Salatin it's hard to make a go of it.
>I'd like to start a small CSA for approximately 50 people initially at $500
>share. My farm is near Greenwood , South carolina. I've got two large ponds
>over3acres and a mix of pasture and cut over pine. I'd also like to include
>to better utilize farm produce, and improve soil etc.
>My problem is trying to work out some sort of continuous production schedule
>can be handled by two people, and that will produce sufficient high quality
>for shareholders that represent a good value to them.
>I could really use some advice on the laying out of the intensiv e raised
>and the selections, and amounts of seed or transplants to put in.
>I tend to be quite conservative and would probably estimate my initial
yields at
>50% of what proven local results are.
>I'd really appreciate your thoughts on the above. I realize that certain of
>conditions may not be the same, but that certain principles, and tips that
>and others have found work, may also work in my area.
>I'd appreciate comments on any of the above from other experienced
gardeners, CSA'ers
>Best wishes to all.   Frank