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Joel Salatin speaks at Persephone Farm

Hope everyone got a glimpse of the awesome super blood moon eclipse on Sunday! On that auspicious day, Sept. 27, the Kitsap Community and Agricultural Alliance brought farmer, food system revolutionary and agri-provocateur Joel Salatin to Kitsap to participate in a series of events, including a brunch discussion and the annual KCAA Harvest Dinner, all open to the public.

As part of its outreach mission, KCAA also invited Salatin to our very own Persephone Farm to speak to a group of young and/or beginning farmers and farm interns about issues specifically important to them. Salatin is an engaging speaker and a well-informed and experienced farmer, and had many wise words for the young/ish farmers in the crowd. Among the crowd pleasers: “what makes something a farm?” to be answered, after many guesses from the audience, with the obvious “a farmer!”

Salatin also discussed approaches to overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to starting a farm: the cost of land. His advice included the “three Ms”—make your farm Mobile (to pick up and move if it becomes necessary, just as Persephone once had to do); Modular — build small and add on as you grow; and Management-intensive — that is, rely on human labor over short cuts that are often expensive, petroleum-dependent, and degrading to the environment. Why use a leaf-blower when you can rake? Why use herbicide when you can weed? These are some of the principles Persephone Farm has followed for years. It was a fun and inspiring morning.

— Apprentice Rachel (excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email)

Persephone Farm Corn

CORN in everyone’s CSA boxes this week—the variety is known as “bodacious”! Some of you may wonder, why does locally grown corn cost more? You’ve probably seen it—this time of year the market is flooded with cheap corn. Much of it comes from large, far-away farms, raised on cheap land with subsidized water and transportation costs. The production of this corn relies on heavy inputs of artificial nitrogen fertilizer, much of which ends up in streams and rivers. In some cases, these large farms contaminate aquifers with nitrate pollution. Large tractors cause erosion and compaction to produce those 10/$1 ears in the supermarket. There is a loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat associated with hundred- and thousand-acre commercial corn production. We are just beginning to understand the real cost of industrialized corn.

Of all the crops we grow, corn is by far the heaviest nutrient feeder, really taking a toll on our fragile soil. It requires many loads of compost before and after planting. The sheer square footage required to grow sweet corn, which only produces two ears per plant (with only one of them full-sized and marketable) takes up a sizable portion of our limited irrigation water.

All this said, we love fresh corn as much as you do! We even love to grow it. Walking through the leafy rows, squeezing each ear for fullness, is one of the pleasures of farming. The miracle of pollination is nowhere more evident than in each individual corn silk attached to a single kernel, which, in order to swell and sweeten, must be touched by pollen grains falling from the pointed tassels above. Incredible! And the taste of a just-picked mouthful of golden sweet corn… we all know that joy. CORN. It’s what’s for dinner.

— Apprentice Rachel (excerpted from our weekly CSA subscriber email)

Photo: Leslie Newman

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All female greenhouse builders

The Persephone crew, proud builders of the new greenhouse

In just a few short weeks with these smart and powerful women we were able to build this new greenhouse. Incredibly good ideas, dedication, an eye for straight and plumb, and a lot of muscle from our awesome interns helped us finish in time. Can you say awesome?!

Under construction — the bows are up!

Under construction — the bows are up!

Learn a bit high tunnel greenhouses. See more photos on Persephone Farm’s Facebook page.

 

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Check out the article Bill posted at The Season last May. Tomato Starts–A Farmer’s Guide

Every year, our starts seem to outperform those big, bushy plants you find at commercial outlets like nurseries, Big Box stores and supermarkets. Sometimes ours don’t look as robust as theirs do on the shelf, but as the season progresses their plants’ vigor often wains, and by harvest time a lot have died or are duds, while ours are bearing nicely.

How do we do it? Persephone’s Farmer-in-chief, Rebecca, explains in this guest post on starting your tomatoes.

Read the full post Tomato Starts–A Farmer’s Guide.

Persephone tom turkeys

There are two main groups of turkeys in the world of agriculture. Turkeys that carry the broad breasted gene, and heritage turkeys, older breeds developed before the introduction of broad breasted varieties. Broad breasted types are the kind that everyone is familiar with and have eaten for years. They cannot mate naturally and are all artificially inseminated. Most information about raising turkeys refers to these birds. Over the last few years I have had several groups of heritage turkey hens raise their own babies. I tried to find information about how to enable this to happen, and other than Barbara Kingsolver’s brief description in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I found very little to go on. As heritage turkeys become more popular to raise, I thought other people might benefit from what I have learned, through trial and error, knowing that the every season I refine my methods as I learn more about what is amenable to them. Read the rest of this entry »

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