Re: organic farming

> From:          Elfpermacl@aol.com
> Date:          Tue, 7 Jan 1997 10:27:58 -0500
> To:            FranksFarm@aol.com, 75031.1565@compuserve.com, cstaple@unix1.sncc.lsu.edu,
>                ElfinPDC1@aol.com
> Cc:            permaculture-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu, EarleLA@aol.com, ktsch@inetnebr.com,
>                lsc@hplsc.fc.hp.com, Matthew@twinoaks.org
> Subject:       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
> efficient.
> 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
> organic
> >farming, biodynamic farming, and what I can find on permaculture.
> >I agree with Bill Mollison's concepts , and also the need for holistic
> planning.
> >
> >I'm trying to turn my farm into a showcase/education center for sustainable
> ag,
> >permaculture.
> >
> >Though I may be better versed than Andrew in the methods..your sage, and
> sobering
> >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
> Joel
> >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
> per
> >share. My farm is near Greenwood , South carolina. I've got two large ponds
> of
> >over3acres and a mix of pasture and cut over pine. I'd also like to include
> livestock
> >to better utilize farm produce, and improve soil etc.
> >
> >My problem is trying to work out some sort of continuous production schedule
> that
> >can be handled by two people, and that will produce sufficient high quality
> produce
> >for shareholders that represent a good value to them.
> >
> >I could really use some advice on the laying out of the intensiv e raised
> beds,
> >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
> your
> >conditions may not be the same, but that certain principles, and tips that
> you
> >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
> >etc.  
> >
> >Best wishes to all.   Frank