Rank #1: e.31: Best practices for farmers selling to restaurants and chefs part 1 of 2
Selling your farm goods to chefs can be lucrative, but there are idiosyncrasies to this type of marketing that a farmer should understand if she wants to keep and increase the business she gets from restaurants. In this episode and the one to follow, I speak to two chef-owners of a high end catering business that has built its reputation for great cuisine on a devotion to sourcing and serving local farm goods. Cam Smith and Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering in BC's Okanagan Valley really want to support your farm, but they but they also insist that you take the customer service you provide them seriously. Herein, they provide some no-nonsense advice for how to approach and maintain restaurant customers.
At show's end I reference a couple of farming conferences I'll be attending in February and March.
February 25-28, 2015: Moses Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin
March 4-8, 2015: Permaculture Voices Conference in San Diego, California
Jan 07 2015
Rank #2: e.30: Krista Rome on Growing Grains and Legumes on a Small Scale
Krista M. Rome runs a website called Backyard Beans and Grains, and has published a great manual on selecting, growing, processing and storing various legumes and grains, with a focus on small-scale production.
From her website: The Backyard Beans and Grains Project (BBGP) was started in 2008 as a response to the challenge of incorporating locally-grown staple foods into the diet. Whatcom County (and Western Washington in general) produces a large variety of vegetables, berries, dairy products, and to a lesser degree, fruits, fish and meat. The missing element, especially for vegetarians, those on low income, or those with dairy allergies, is a variety of storable, high-quality vegetable protein sources, i.e. dry legumes and grains.
Our research is conducted for the benefit of all regional farmers and gardeners who wish to grow dry beans and grains. We record detailed information about varieties, plant spacing, dates, labor inputs, yields, harvesting and threshing techniques, seed-saving, and storage.
We have self-published an instruction manual, entitled "Growing Dry Beans & Grains in the Pacific Northwest", which contains information on growing, harvesting, and processing dry legumes and grains tailored specifically for Pacific Northwest growers.
In this episode, Krista takes me through the ins and outs of growing legumes and grains on a super small scale.
Mar 22 2014
Rank #3: e.92: The Farmers Aren't All Right
Farming is tough work. The unpredictability of the job and the pressure to present a curated, bucolic version of the work can easily lead to various kinds of mental health problems: despair, feeling overwhelmed or like a failure, or even depression. In this episode, co-produced with Jessica Gale of Sweet Gale Gardens, we discuss the prevalence of mental health problems among farmers, and how to address them.
Mar 03 2017
Rank #4: e77: Smart High Tunnel Management
This episode, veggie grower and high tunnel ninja Adam Montri of Ten Hens Farm in Bath, Michigan, joins me to talk about the finer points of incorporating high tunnels into your market gardening.
The limitations of 12' wide caterpillar tunnels compared to high tunnels
What you can expect to pay for a high tunnel, and the bells and/or whistles you should consider
Ideal tunnel layout
Why you should vent like crazy in the Winter
If you like what you hear, check out Adam's related content on Youtube by searching his name.
Mar 25 2016
Rank #5: e.65: Your weeds are trying to tell you something.
Jay McCaman has spent many years observing and cataloguing the weeds on his and his clients' farms, and over this time, by also observing the soil types, conditions, and nutrient levels of the countless fields he's worked with, Jay has come up with, well, sort of a grand unifying theory of weeds, and what they're telling us about our soil. Jay has written a few versions of his book on the topic, but the only one currently availble for sale is called, simply, When Weeds Talk. I spoke with Jay in November of 2015. This is our conversation
Dec 12 2015
Rank #6: e106: How to Gross 250K on 1/2 Acre
This ep: my conversation with urban farmer Kevin Sturdy, author of a book getting a lot of buzz: You're Welcome: How to Crush Your Dreams By Grossing More Money on Less Land Than You Ever Thought Possible.
Kevin claims that by following his guide, you can gross 250K on a half-acre urban farm.
Episode Sponsor: Dubois Agrinovation
Many thanks to professional thespian Kirk Smith, who co-produced this episode with me.
Feb 20 2019
Rank #7: e.73: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health
In The Hidden Half of Nature, David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé suggest we are in the midst of a scientific revolution of our understanding of the role that microbes play in the health of many other life forms on earth, including plants, as well as our own. I devoured this book, and for this episode, David, a geologist, and Anne, a biologist, are my guests.
Also: the winner of The Salatin Semester giveaway is announced. You'll also hear a couple of ideas for replacing expensive specialty farm parts with their hardware store equivalents.
The intro to this episode is kind of long. Skip ahead to, I don't know, 9 minutes to get to my conversation with Anne and David.
Feb 26 2016
Rank #8: e.46: Growing Great Potatoes
This episode, Ruth Genger, a researcher with the University of Wisconsin in Madison Organic Potato Project, joins me to talk about the finer points of getting your potato production off to a great start. Ruth explains how to ensure your potato plants "jump out of the soil" by starting with high quality seed potatoes, and employing a few other important techniques.
Apr 16 2015
Rank #9: e101: Beneficial Insects on the Farm
This ep: I wanted to learn more about maintaining and increasing bug biodiversity on my farm so I contacted the Xerces Society, a non-profit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. They connected me with Eric Mader, co-Director of their Pollinator Conservation and Agricultural Biodiversity program. Eric is my guest in this episode.
I grabbed this episode's artwork from The Pacific Northwest Bumblebee Atlas
Aug 05 2018
Rank #10: e.44: Peter McCoy on Radical Mycology
Peter McCoy, mycologist and co-founder of radicalmycology, joins me for this episode to talk about the vital importance of fungi in our natural and farmed ecosystems, why fungi literacy is so low, and how we might change that.
Apr 01 2015
Rank #11: e102: Weed Management in the Pasture
This episode my guest is Mark Renz, an extension weed specialist at the University of Wisconsin. He joins me to talk about weed management in the pasture.
Sep 19 2018
Rank #12: e.49: Truly Regenerative Agriculture via Pasture-Cropping
This episode: Australian farmer Colin Seis talks about the system of no-till pasture cropping he helped develop that allowed him to resurrect a 3000 acre farm on the edge of destruction and turn it into a thriving example of truly regenerative agriculture. Learn more about Colin here.
May 07 2015
Rank #13: e.61: Growing Perennial Fruits: Jim Riddle and Blue Fruit Farm
At Blue Fruit Farm in Minnesota, Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford grow a range of perrenial tree fruit and berries of the blue and nearly-blue kind. In our conversation, Jim Riddle talks about why he and Joyce switched to perennial crops from annual market veggies, considerations for establishing a farm like his, and how he and Joyce have approached their marketing. You can find out more at bluefruitfarm.com. More info about Jim's production practices can be found in the expanded show notes for this episode at http://theruminant.ca
Nov 13 2015
Rank #14: e93: Stop Washing Your Children So Much!
The microbes that colonize us when we're in the womb and as infants have lasting impacts on our health later on. My conversation with Claire Arrieta, author of Let Them Eat Dirt.
Marie-Claire is the co-author with B. Brett Finlay of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World.
After that, I talk about lego for farmers.
Mar 18 2017
Rank #15: e.36: Rhys Pender on why wine matters
Rhys Pender is a winemaker, farmer, writer, and holder of a rare designation: he is a Master of Wine. A while back, Rhys wrote this post for the blog WineAlign, in which he argues that North America's food and wine culture is poorly integrated, and that this is holding both facets of the culture back.
I asked Rhys to join me on the podcast to talk about his piece. Herein, we discuss some of the barriers to achieving a more integrated food and wine culture, and why such an outcome would be better for that culture, and even for food security.
Feb 11 2015
Rank #16: e76: Winter bale-grazing, biodegradable mulch research, amending poor soil
This episode we're back to the practical aspects of farming. I speak with:
Blake Hall of Prairie Gold Meats about his Winter bale-grazing program.
PhD Candidate Shuresh Ghimire of Washington State University about his research on biodegradable mulches for field crops.
Market Gardener Matt Coffay of Second Spring Market Garden about the value of regular soil testing and how he dealt with some really, really poor soil he leased.
Mar 19 2016
Rank #17: 3.37 Lisa G.K. on Starting a Raw Millk Dairy on the 53rd Parallel
Feb 18 2015
Rank #18: e.41: Chris Marquardt on Commercial Beekeeping
This episode: friend Chris Marquardt talks about the commercial beekeeping program he took that led to a happy career as a full-time apiarist. We also discuss big versus small beekeeping, colony collapse disorder, and what Chris loves, and hates, about his job. You will also learn what kind of bees produce milk, if you don't already know.
Mar 19 2015
Rank #19: e86: Antibiotic Use in Poultry Production & Antibiotic Resistance
My guest today is Tom Philpott, Food and Agriculture Correspondant for Mother Jones. Tom joined me to talk about his recent piece on the use and abuse of antibiotics in US poultry production, and the efforts of one major poultry producer to wean itself from this practice.
Jun 05 2016
Rank #20: e84 Standing Orders with Restaurant Customers
This ep is a shorty. Matt Coffay returns to talk about setting up standing orders with restaurants. Approximately 1/3 of Matt's sales are to restaurants, and the majority of those sales come from standing orders of just a few products--salad mix, tomatoes, pea shoots, etc. Which means: no fresh sheets! Predictable supply management! And a happier Matt.
May 21 2016