12.07.2008

non-GMO Seed Potatoes


We will have non-GMO seed potatoes available in January for pick-up at the farm along with colloidal rock phosphate and other organic amendments to make a successful crop.

More details online... www.homesweetfarm.com/seed_potatoes.htm

Contact me by the end of Dec. if you want to assure availability.

Farm On!

11.17.2008

DOCUMENTARY: The Disappearing Male

The Disappearing Male is about one of the most important, and least publicized, issues facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system.

The last few decades have seen steady and dramatic increases in the incidence of boys and young men suffering from genital deformities, low sperm count, sperm abnormalities and testicular cancer.

At the same time, boys are now far more at risk of suffering from ADHD, autism, Tourette's syndrome, cerebral palsy, and dyslexia.

The Disappearing Male takes a close and disturbing look at what many doctors and researchers now suspect are responsible for many of these problems: a class of common chemicals that are ubiquitous in our world.

Found in everything from shampoo, sunglasses, meat and dairy products, carpet, cosmetics and baby bottles, they are called "hormone mimicking" or "endocrine disrupting" chemicals and they may be starting to damage the most basic building blocks of human development.

WATCH this thought provoking documentary online, CLICK HERE >>

11.14.2008

Nov 16th Market Day UPDATE


Hope everyone can make it out to our farm this Sunday for the Monthly Market Day (2-4pm). Besides the great farmers that usually make it, we have teamed up with Matt Family Orchard to provide us with fresh local fruit and to help forage for other local treats. LOTS of artisan cheese this market day plus heritage pork sausage from Sand Creek Farm.


LOCAL Produce at the market: persimmons, lemons, satsuma oranges, kumquats, squash, zucchini, lettuce, cabbage, winter squash, radishes, arugula, sweet peppers, kale, baby greens, eggplant, cucumbers, and more. NOW IN THE FALL PEAK!


FARM TOUR AT 3pm! Come see the beautiful fall gardens. 12 acres of produce, ponies, chickens, ducks and other surprises. We want to share with everyone the building of our new farm store, opening next spring. Hope you can come share our vision.


Farmer Brad

The Stufflebeam Family

HOMEsweetFARM

Brenham,TX

www.homesweetfarm.com

979.251.9922

11.11.2008

the sound of rain


The sweet sound of rain

A farmer can relax


And then

After a few hours

“Lord, please not too much”


- Farmer Brad

11.08.2008

Monthly Market Day and Farm Tour - Nov. 16th












EVENT: Monthly Market Day

TIME: 2 to 4pm, November 16th.
INFO: Visit our website for directions and details >>

Come on out next Sunday the 16th for a farm tour at 3pm and enjoy our Monthly Market Day, a cooperative effort of local family farms dedicated to providing the highest quality food to our community.

Farmers will bring ALL LOCAL drug-free grass-fed beef, pork, sausage, chicken, artisan cheeses, fresh baked bread, persimmons and veggies (we have six varieties of baby greens, chinese cabbage, beautiful radishes and other seasonal treats).

Fall Veggie transplants include 5 varieties of head lettuce for your garden.

Local Cheese! 4 varieties from Veldhuizen Farm and wonderful feta and chevre from Blue Heron Farm.

Sausage! Sand Creek Farm is featuring heritage pork sausage.

Things to see at the farm:
12 acres of organic horse farming
Our new barn to house a farm store (opens spring 2009!!!)
ponies, chickens, ducks, great folks and local farmers

11.04.2008

The Small Farm: Training and Education

This was originally published by The Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc (TOFGA). I have had a lot of questions and requests for this information, so I thought I would post it once again since it is no longer available on the TOFGA website. More coming soon, stay tuned.

- Farmer Brad


The Small Farm: Training and Education



The small farm is more than just a dream. It can be a reality, and your vision and decisions in life must have a focus towards that purpose. Our family has been on that path for over fourteen years. We are mainly self-taught, having the single focus and obsession that we could one day have the independent family farm. Now that we are achieving that goal, we would like to share with others our (not always simple) homesteading lifestyle, and how we have achieved that goal. It is rich and rewarding; to work as a family, but the steps can be a long and bumpy journey, definitely worth the perseverance.


Step 1: Acquiring training and education to prepare for your small farm.

Our education has been explored through many avenues. Early on we pursued the collegiate route, to find major disappointment in the institutional system. Our interests focused early upon organic techniques, nutrition, and more holistic approaches towards health and the environment. This led us towards the pursuit of self-education… reading every book and researching every website we could come across. I will try to list the best resources that we have found useful in our search.

Books…

Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison
Family Friendly Farming by Joel Salatin (and any other book by Salatin)
The New Organic Grower by Elliot Coleman
How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons
A Farmer’s Guide to the Bottom Line by Charles Walters
Buying and Setting Up Your Small Farm or Ranch by L.R. Miller
Paddock Shift, Changing Views on Grassland Farming by Allan Nation
The Biological Farmer by Gary F. Zimmer

Magazines…

Acres USA (512) 892-4400 www.acresusa.com
Growing for Market 1(800) 307-8949 www.growingformarket.com
Farming, People, Land, and Community 1(800) 915-0042 www.farmingmagazine.net
Small Farmer’s Journal 1(800) 876-2893 www.smallfarmersjournal.com
The Heirloom Gardener (417) 924-1222 www.rareseed.com

Websites for Research…

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) www.attra.org
A&M has put together a great list of alternative agriculture resources at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/alternatives/alternativelinks.html.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/
There are many other sites to list here for specific topics.

Internships…

Consider an internship/apprenticeship program with an organic farm. ATTRA has a listing on their website (www.attrainternships.ncat.org). You can also find farms advertising directly in many of the magazines I suggested above. International opportunities are available through MESA (Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture) www.mesaprogram.org and WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) www.wwoof.org. I served as the Farm Operations Director for World Hunger Relief, which offers a 12-month internship program in Elm Mott, TX, and the experience was rich and rewarding for the interns and myself. I recommend maybe a shorter program of 3 to 6 months during the peak of production, but you do get a better idea of the big picture when you can experience every changing season on the farm.

Organizations…

Holistic Resource Management of Texas www.hrm-texas.org

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) www.ssawg.org


Schools/Conferences…

Ranching for Profit is a highly recommended program exploring a more holistic approach utilizing rotational grazing www.ranchmanagement.com

Texas Organic Farmers and Growers Assoc. (TOFGA) host their annual conference, which is always rich with information specific to our state.

Practical Experience…

Nothing beats practical experience. Grow a backyard garden, get a job at a nursery or commercial grower, volunteer at a farm, find a skill that is farm related i.e. carpentry, mechanics, welding, horticulture, marketing, etc. My greatest learning experience was owning and operating a retail nursery and having my own garden every year.


The new farmers need to be innovative and highly motivated to educate themselves in sustainable agriculture. It also helps to visit other farms and to see what other folks are doing. I hope these resources can be help in the pursuit of the small farm.

10.22.2008

Coming in 2009...

Get ready for local food... NOW UNDER CONSTRUCTION, our farm store which will be open two days a week with deliveries into Houston. A cooperative effort of local family farms. Stay tuned for more!

10.04.2008

Haute barnyard

This sent to me by a friend... from World Wide Words.

Haute barnyard

Foodies in New York were the first to encounter this term, through the writings of restaurant critic Adam Platt in New York magazine.

A play on "haute cuisine", the traditional high cookery of France, it describes a restaurant whose house style emphasizes the quality of the ingredients and where they come from rather to a greater extent than their preparation. Fresh, good-quality ingredients, often organic and sourced locally according to season, are cooked well and served simply. The idea behind it is farm cooking at its best, hence "barnyard". But it's often at a premium price at the New York eateries first identified with the tag and which have since been described as "pretentiously unpretentious". "Haute barnyard" has spread beyond New York, with sightings from both Australia and the UK; in the latter country it has been taken up by the restaurant critic Jay Rayner in particular.

* The Village Voice, 30 July 2008: The ongoing hunger for American countrified cuisine made with greenmarket ingredients and spun upscale (coined "haute barnyard" by New York magazine's Adam Platt) shows no signs of flagging. Get all the farmhouse chic you can swallow at Forge and Hundred Acres, twin additions to the genre.

* The Observer, 21 Sept. 2008: Market is the sort of place any of us would like to be able to call our local: a small, simple restaurant serving food with its own solid but definable character - that great term "haute barnyard" comes to mind once more - at a reasonable price.

9.24.2008

Texas farmers blogging for business and pleasure

Hey, this one about missed the radar. I remember being interviewed for this article a few months ago, and missed it when it was published.

The Dallas Morning News, Aug. 25, 2008
Texas Farmers Blogging for Business and Pleasure




9.17.2008

Why Should Christians Support Sustainable Agriculture?

Here is an excellent article written by Kimberly Hartke, Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter Leader and publicist for Sally Fallon... Being "good stewards" means A LOT more than just watching our finances and being responsible with our spending (which leads to buying more stuff from China and exploiting cheap labor). In our western world, we are so out of place in our environment and completely out of touch with what is REAL and important when it comes to our purpose as His stewards. Hopefully, our eyes will open one day soon.

9.14.2008

Article: Will Work For Food

This year, I have been consulting Marie Tedei on starting her new CSA farm in Balch Springs, near Dallas/Ft. Worth. She just recently had an article in the local paper, and it is very encouraging to see the community getting excited to have a small farm in the area. Marie just started breaking ground to launch her winter garden, "if you build it, they will come." Farm on Marie!

Let this bring hope to those still dreaming about it...

9.13.2008

Yikes, Ike! Sept. 13


Strong winds and light rain so far at the farm as the storm stays to the east of us. Although the farm seems to be out of harms way, the storm has passed right over where most of our CSA families reside: Cypress, Tomball, Katy and Houston.

Our prayers go out to everyone in the path of Ike.

9.12.2008

Yikes, Ike: Sept 12


We are prepared for the storm, and hope that no damage affects our up-coming season. The greenhouse is loaded full of our transplants (1500+ sqft), weak trees are cut down, water is stored for the livestock (in case the power is out and we cannot run our well pump), the windows on the house are boarded up, and Farmer Brad has a local beef stew on the stove, to keep the family nourished.

We pray that everyone is safe and that our season will not be delayed from the storm.

9.10.2008

Yikes Ike!


Here comes another hurricane! This is becoming a frequent happening, although we could use the rain.

9.03.2008

Cloned meat on the market!

Ignorance is bliss. Do you really know what you are eating? Buy local righteous food that you can trust! And let's not forget all the GMO corn, soy and canola. Better labeling laws would quench this industrial food system like it has in Europe. How can we have a free choice when it is not required to be labeled? We have a right to know.

- Farmer Brad


Clones' offspring may be in food supply: FDA | Health | Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Food and milk from the offspring of cloned animals may have entered the U.S. food supply, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, but it would be impossible to know because there is no difference between cloned and conventional products.

9.01.2008

Meet the Neighbors

Lela and Pipi are enjoying our back fields which include a 100+ year old forest. They recently met the neighbors, two real jackasses. Sorry, but that's what they are!

8.29.2008

Hurricane Gustav

Hurricane Gustav is racing towards our back door. Looks like this Labor Day weekend will be spent securing the farm for the up-coming storm. Hopefully, we at least get some more much needed rain out of this.

8.22.2008

8.14.2008

HOMEsweetFARM Radio: John Ikerd - Small Farms Are Real Farms - Part 1

Farmer Brad interviews John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, has written extensively on how sustainable farming practices affect and are affected by industrialization, the environment, economics, and communities. He now spends his time writing and speaking out on issues related to sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on the economics of sustainability.

Part 1 of our interview with John Ikerd... http://homesweetfarm.podomatic.com/entry/2008-08-14T19_25_04-07_00

8.13.2008

Volunteer Farm Crew

Our farm has had one of its best seasons (despite the drought), largely in part by the commitment and enthusiasm of our volunteers. These ladies came out to our farm once a day every week during the spring/summer season, and we could not have done the work without them. These folks working behind the scenes are a real tribute to Community Supported Agriculture, harvesting, washing and sorting produce for our members. Work like this brings the best of people together, and we are truly grateful to have them, sharing the labor, and sharing the harvest.

8.05.2008

8.04.2008

Tropical Storm Edouard


At the farm we are preparing to batten down the hatches in anticipation of Tropical Storm Edouard. Tuesday morning we expect a violent thunderstorm or just a very windy day which will dry things out further. It always makes us a bit nervous, especially for our fall crops. After much care was taken to getting them established during this drought, the crops are looking great at the moment. The animals are well protected as we ride out the storm, and everything should be fine.

Food industry fails at safety

A recent article by Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins University, says the rickety outbreak-reaction system used after food outbreaks needs to be replaced with a much more rigorous effort to actually create healthy food from healthy animals in ecologically sound production systems.

"The answer is twofold: to change the way our foods are produced and the way we think about food production."

As food safety becomes more of an issue, the obvious work needs to be done by ensuring that food is raised and handled properly, not just putting a band-aid over the problem giving the public a false sense of security thinking that the FDA can guarantee safe food as long as you over cook it. The problem lays in our production methods. The standard industrial production of pork, beef and poultry carry pathogenic bacteria, often resistant to the antibiotics added to feeds. This challenges the safety of our food and our health more every year.

Ultimately, it is up to us, the responsible food buyer, to seek out trustworthy local food sources by getting to know the producers who grow our food. Encouraging proper stewardship with our dollar, and making a conscience choice to not support industrial food factories that merely hide behind an idyllic farm marketing scheme. In the future, as the cost of fuel rises, we may depend more upon a healthy local food economy then we do today. It's time to start supporting the farms and families that will supply our communities with righteous food in the future.

8.01.2008

Farming With A Face


August 1, 2008

Texas Agriculture Magazine/Texas Farm Bureau

By Mike Barnett, Editor

Brad Stufflebeam admits it took a little getting used to. It seemed a bit silly to this agricultural entrepreneur when his customers started calling him "Farmer Brad."

Not any more. A pioneer of the local food movement in the Lone Star State, Farmer Brad now wears his nickname as a badge of honor.

What was traditional a century ago—growing food locally and selling it to your community—is untraditional in agriculture today. But this niche market is expanding. And a generation removed by three is coming back into agriculture to meet that demand, riding the crest of a new wave in growing and marketing food.

Brad calls it "farming with a face."

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE >>

7.24.2008

More Rain (1/2 inch)



We got more rain this afternoon. Unfortunately it was a month too late.

Good news: all of our new plantings for cabbage, broccoli, kale, squash and cucumbers got a much needed relief.

7.23.2008

We Got Rain (1/8 inch)

That's us in the red, S.W. of Brenham... short but sweet.
Anything is welcome after 4 months of no rain.


STARTING THE SUSTAINABLE FARM: Starting your Fall Transplants

Starting Your Fall Transplants
July 23, 2008 by Brad Stufflebeam

This is one of the best things about the Texas summer. When it is hot, dry, and miserable, we get to work in the shade of the greenhouse dreaming about cooler weather and preparing for fall.

The fun starts in the greenhouse mixing our soil for propagation. Rather than a native soil or compost based mix, for better consistency we use a peat based soil mix with high porosity. We have found that over-watering is a common issue when we have different people trading off on the chore. Herbs are also very sensitive to over watering. We mix our own soil in small batches using different organic amendments and rock powders to give the seedlings a good start. After years of observation and trials, we have come up with what we call “Farmer Brad’s Super Soil”:

40 lbs. Soil Mix (inoculated with mycrozial fungi)

10 lbs. Worm Castings (for added micronutrients and biology)

10 lbs. Lava Sand (for aeration and Paramagnetism)

5 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate (for root development)

2 cups Bat Guano, Feather Meal or Poultry Manure (for nitrogen, but do not over do it!)

2 cups Kelp Meal (micronutrients and aids in germination)

2 cups Humate (added organic mater)

2 cups Green Sand (iron and magnesium)

5 gal. Water (it is important to pre-wet your mix)


This is all mixed together by hand or with a small concrete mixer. We then use 72ct trays and prepare ready stacks for the work of seeding ahead.

This is when you want the whole family or friends to help to get the work done faster. Before seeding you can use a pencil to dib holes about a ¼” deep into each filled cell of the plant tray, a board can be made with nails to dib the whole tray at one time as well. We drop 2 to 3 seeds into each dibbed cell and then tamp the soil down carefully to cover the seeds and to insure that they are making good contact to the soil. Smaller seeds like delphinium may need to be lightly sprinkled on the surface of the filled cells rather than buried.

Be sure to label and date your trays, then place them into the shade and water them in (very important), repeating daily (if not more) before the heat of the day. You want to keep the soil moist for germination, but you also want the soil to not be continuously wet and growing algae.

Ants can be a problem in the greenhouse as they will literally harvest the seed from your trays. You can place your trays on tables that have their legs standing in water and use one of the organic ant baits regularly to deter the problem.

By the end of July we start broccoli, cauliflower, winter cabbage, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, pak choi, Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi. These will be transplanted out into the field as soon as the weather cools off, hopefully by lat Sept. In mid August we will begin seeding the more tender leafy greens like head lettuce, swiss chard, dill, and other herbs.

Before planting into the field you need to place the plant trays into the full sun and wind to harden off for at least a week. This is called “tough love” preparing the babies for real life outdoors. Pray for rain after planting, cover with a light cloth if possible for earlier transplanting and be sure to water them in deeply either by hand or irrigation and repeat as necessary until the plants are well established.

Happy Growing!

Farmer Brad
www.homesweetfarm.com

7.16.2008

STARTING THE SUSTAINABLE FARM: Fall Planting

STARTING THE SUSTAINABLE FARM: Planting the Fall Garden (25 member CSA)

We are busy this time of year (July), preparing new fields and planning for our fall planting. One of the challenges is the dry soil during this time of the year which makes any bed preparation a major challenge. When you receive any amount of rain, you need to be prepared to work the soil. One advantage that you have is that it is easier to eliminate Bermuda grass if you can lightly till or disk the area regularly, every other week, which finally exhausts the noxious weed in preparation for fall planting.

After testing the soil, we generally fertilize a new one acre field with 100lbs. dried molasses, 50 lbs. Humate and 600lbs, cotton seed meal (or whatever is economically/locally available) as early as possible when we prepare the field. To simplify things, each bed is 4 feet wide and 100 feet long. Two to four weeks before we are ready to plant, we like to have the beds prepared with 10lbs. colloidal rock phosphate and 10lbs. organic fertilizer (there are many name brands out there, or you can use feather meal, poultry manure, etc…)

Fall Tomatoes and Peppers (June-July): By July we start our final crop of tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse. Be prepared to protect them in the field from the first fall frost in mid-Nov, and you might have a harvest past the New Year. We choose early producing varieties like Early Girl, Valley Girl and sweet peppers that can add to our fall shares. Be prepared to transplant into the field after 6 weeks from starting. You will not have the major crop as you did in the spring/summer but still plan for 200 tomatoes and 200 sweet peppers, about 3 beds total. If you think a hard frost might take the crop, go out and harvest all you can. We have had tomatoes ripen almost a month later, or offer green tomatoes or tomato relish. Come up with something. You need to turn lemon into lemonade.

Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers (Aug-Sept): Direct seed at least one bed of each. You can plan on harvesting beginning 6 to 7 weeks from sowing and should choose early varieties. It helps to cover the new beds with a light frost cloth until the plants flower; this keeps off the insects and provides a little shade during the extreme heat.

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Head Cabbage (Aug): Start these in your greenhouse before mid-Aug. Plan at least 100 plants of each, and 200 of the broccoli. They will be available to your members by late January. Be prepared to protect these plants with a light frost cloth to prevent any cosmetic damage during a freeze. Before they set heads, you can harvest their greens which are wonderful. Foliar sprays work well throughout the growing season. We use fish emulsion, molasses and Bt to prevent worm damage before they set heads.

Swiss Chard, Kale, Collards, Mustard, Cauliflower and Chinese Cabbage (Sept.): Start Napa Cabbage, Bok Choi and others in the greenhouse by mid-Sept. and transplant out into the field as early as possible. Swiss Chard can also be direct seeded for baby greens.

Lettuce (Sept-Oct): Choose at least 3 varieties (100 plants each) and start in the greenhouse in Sept. for head lettuce. Lettuce mixes can be directly seeded in four rows down your bed. Repeat a second bed of Lettuce Mix every two weeks throughout Oct. and be prepared to protect with a light frost cloth to keep it looking pretty. Foliar spray with Bt for the worms, but keep the fish emulsion out of the mix on any of these greens to prevent an off flavor.

Beets and Turnips (Sept.-mid Oct): Direct seed a lot of beets and turnips in Sept. to mid-Oct. You can harvest their greens throughout the fall, and thin them out to form beet and turnip roots for the spring. These will be important crops in early spring to add bulk to your shares.

Carrots (Sept.): Direct seed at least 2 beds of carrots in 4 rows in the first part of Sept. Carrots take a few weeks to germinate and need to be kept moist until they emerge. Deep sandy soil produces the best carrots and will be available next spring for your CSA shares.

Onions (Aug – Nov): Start your own onion seed in the greenhouse in late August, or buy onion sets to be put into the fields from Oct – Nov. You can’t plant too many onions for your spring shares. Choose short day varieties like TX 1015, Candy, TX Early White, Grano, Blanco, Yellow Granex and others. Keep moisture consistent until the first evidence of top falling, which is your sign to harvest large onion bulbs. Mulching is a big benefit and fertilizing regularly before bulbing.

Spinach (mid Sept – mid Nov): Spinach has not done well for us, but we still give it a try every year. Direct seed in 3 to 4 rows and thin out to give room to grow. High fertility needs, and good drainage is essential.

Peas (mid Dec): Direct seed English and Sugar Snap peas during the last week of December. We generally do not plant peas any more because of the low yields and high labor to harvest, but members love them when you have them available in early spring. You will need to have at least a whole bed planted to make it worth your time.

Leeks and Bulb Fennel (Aug-Sept.): Start your transplants in the greenhouse in late Aug. and put into the field as early as possible in Oct. Mulching is a big benefit as these plants grow all winter for your spring shares. One bed of each should be plenty, spaced 4 to 6 inches a part.

Fava Beans (mid Sept.-mid Oct.): Fava beans make an excellent cover crop with edible leaves and large pods relished by chefs. Available in late winter, they hold up well unless it gets below 20 degrees. They also make a great habitat for beneficial insects in the early spring.

Herbs (Sept-Oct): Direct seed cilantro, dill, lovage, salad burnet and chamomile by late Sept. when it begins to cool down. Parsley can be started in the greenhouse in early Sept. and transplanted as early as possible. Any perennial herb like rosemary, oregano, sage, lemon grass and others transplant well in the fall as well, when mulched.

Strawberry Plants (Nov.): Start out with no more than 1000 plants. This is where black plastic and straw mulch is a real benefit. Space 8 inches apart in 3 staggered rows down your bed. Be prepared to protect from frosts once the fruit is set with either overhead watering or a heavy frost cloth. Choose “June Bearing” varieties for large marketable fruit like Camarosa, Chandler and Sequoia. Watch for diseases which can be suppressed with foliar sprays including seaweed and neem oil or hydrogen peroxide.

Winter Cover Crops (Oct): Any bare soil or fields that you plan to put into production next spring/summer needs to be planted into a winter cover crop. This will add organic matter, prevent erosion, add nitrogen for the following season, suppress weeds and provide a habitat for beneficial insects. Some plants also provide interest for your CSA shares including pea tendrils and crimson clover bouquets for tea. Our basic one acre cover crop mix for the winter includes crimson clover (10lbs.), Austrian field peas (25lbs.), Vetch (25 lbs.), and oats (50 lbs.). This needs to be worked into the soil when at 80% bloom or before it sets seed, ideally 6 to 8 weeks before you are ready to plant the field for the spring/summer season.

7.14.2008

STARTING A SUSTAINABLE SMALL FARM... how much to plant?

STARTING A SUSTAINABLE SMALL FARM: How much to plant for a 25 member CSA (1/2 acre)

I recommend starting small. We started our first CSA on our new farm in the spring/summer of 2005, feeding 26 families on 1/3 of an acre with a troybilt tiller and a hoe. This was the beginning of what turned into a 100 member CSA after two years.

Imagine a ½ acre prepared into 4 foot wide raised beds. All of these beds are roughly 100 ft long and irrigated using T-Tape supplied with water by a 1 inch black poly header pipe (all above ground). Here is a list of what we planted the first season, with planting times for the season. This can all be adapted to your situation, but by keeping the beds all roughly the same, you can easily plan for more or less as you grow each year.

Irish Potatoes (Jan-Feb): 50 lbs. Red La Soda and 50 lbs. White Kennebec. Plant both varieties to see which one will do better for you. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate be 100 ft. row. We try to build the beds back up as they grow and mulch with old hay. We generally do not irrigate our potatoes, but rely solely on the rain.

Head Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Kale (Jan-Feb): direct seed 3 or 4 rows down a whole bed for baby greens or transplant for bunching. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice.

Beets, Lettuce Mix, Arugula (Feb.): direct seed 3 or 4 rows down a whole bed for baby greens and repeat in 2 weeks. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice. It basically takes a ¼ lb of seed to plant a whole bed of each (same with the Swiss Chard). You should get 2 cuts off of each bed, and then your second planting should be getting ready to cut.

Radishes (Feb): Choose at least two varieties, and plant a half a bed of each. In the spring we have found French Breakfast, Easter Egg and any of the early round varieties do best. Daikon and others are best planted as winter radishes in the fall. Fertilize and plant the same as the previous greens mentioned.

Tomatoes (Jan-Feb): Start your transplants indoors or in a small greenhouse. Early Girl, Celebrity and Romas are your staple tomatoes; you need 100 plants of each for the CSA. Heirlooms can add some interest, 100 plants would be a good start. This will give you 4 beds of tomatoes, which will all need to be staked and trained, planted in mid-March and early April. Fertilize each bed with 10 lbs Colloidal Rock Phosphate, 10 lbs organic fertilizer, 2 lbs. Epsom Salt. Mulching with straw would be a good idea.

Sweet Peppers (Jan-Feb): Start your transplants and plan for at least 200 plants or 2 beds. Members really like Bell Peppers like Big Bertha but we also like heirloom varieties like Marconi, Sweet Italia, Banana Peppers and Spanish Spice. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice. Plant out in the beds after frost in early April. Mulching is preferred.

Eggplant (Jan-Feb): Start your transplants for at least 200 plants or 2 beds. Pingtung Long, Florida High Bush and Rosa Bianca are nice. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice. Mulching is preferred. Plant out in the beds after frost in early April.

Summer Squash and Zucchini (Mar-June): Direct seed one bed of each, and repeat every two weeks. You should have at least 6 beds planted at different dates. This helps manage your harvest, and keeps you ahead of the cucumber beetles, squash bugs and other pests. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice.

Cucumbers (Mar-June): Direct seed once a month to have at least 3 beds for the season. Fertilize with 10 lbs. Colloidal Rock Phosphate and 10 lbs. organic fertilizer of your choice. Market More is a good selection. Members also like Asian varieties.

Melons (April-May): Direct seed one row in a bed and thin to one foot apart after germination. Fertilize the same as the previous crops. We recommend 7 to 10 beds total. Try Isreali, Honeydew, and other interesting heirloom varieties. Plan at least a ¼ pound for seed and try to get a late planting in again in July for an early fall harvest. Mulching is recommended if possible.

Herbs and Flowers: Plan at least one bed of cilantro (Feb-Mar), and basil (April-May, transplants could be started in Feb), direct seeding a bed of sunflowers also makes a nice addition to CSA shares.

If you do not have access to a greenhouse the first year, another market grower in the area may have space to start your plants for you. You could supply them with the seed and have it arranged to be ready when you are.

While all this work is happening, you still may need time to recruit your new CSA members. Plan a Farm Day to show prospective new members the garden you are preparing and share the vision. I will discuss Membership fees and agreements in the next issue.

Also, keep in mind; this is your spring/summer field. It would be good to have another 3 ½ acres in a summer cover crop to get ready for the future, try lablab or iron and clay cow peas in sandy soil (20 lbs and acre), then you want to have another ½ acre ready to plant for your fall garden starting in late September.


Grab a seed catalog and start dreaming!

- Farmer Brad

7.05.2008

HOW TO START A SUSTAINABLE SMALL FARM

I have heard from a lot of folks wanting to start their own small farm, and I wanted to share some of this info that others might use as well… Here it goes. -Farmer Brad

HOW TO START A SUSTAINABLE SMALL FARM

Brad,

I have been approached by a few friends about starting a CSA on my little five acres. I only have about 2 acres that I can produce from, and another 1-1/2 acres that I can transition to production (currently the horse paddock/barn) and where I can put the broilers. They have asked me to put together some numbers for them, I have no idea how to start.

The idea is to grow produce, and eggs and broilers which the CSA members will get as part of their share.

My fixed expenses are probably too high for me to quit corporate work, so I thought that maybe the CSA could pay for a worker to do the day to day under my supervision (or have members do some of the work).

How many members would I be able to have with 2 acres? How much would a farm worker cost me? How much would seedlings cost me?

I know how much broilers and hens and feed and poultry housing is going to cost me. I'd probably have to invest in a little irrigation for the 2 acres.

I know that's alot of questions, but as you're the only one I know who is doing a produce CSA...I'd thought I'd ask you! :-)

Blessings, Christine

FROM FARMER BRAD:

Christine,

I think you can do it, but not by hiring folks to run it for you. In order for a small farm to be profitable, you need to plan on being the farmer.

If you have 2 acres available, you could sustainably operate a 50 member CSA (more or less after a few years). Start out planting a ½ acre with 25 members. Imagine dividing your 2 acres into 4 parts. One part is being planted for the upcoming season (fall); the others should go into a winter cover crop (clover, peas, vetch and oats). If you are starting right now (July), you have time to get everything ready to plant by September. But keep in mind, we have found that it is better to start new members in the spring not the fall (spring/summer vegetables are more popular, rather than starting people on kale and turnips). I started on a ½ acre while working full-time in town for a few months until I could get it going. It will take more than 25 members to pay someone to run it for you. You need to be able to do it yourself to get started, and you should be able to do that part-time for 25 members.

Plan on $700 a year for seeds and transplants for the 25 member CSA, plus a $1000 to get the irrigation system going. Since you do not have a greenhouse, plan on buying your broccoli, cabbage and other transplants this fall. You can direct seed beets, kale, chard, turnips, radish, baby lettuce, etc.

We found that we lost money with 100 layers and broilers, so we only do those for our own family. We needed to concentrate on what brought us an income, and that was produce. I recommend a minimum of 10 acres with 400 layers plus your broilers to earn anything from that enterprise. It just depends on what your focus will be.

Keep the questions coming!

Brad

6.25.2008

Austin Organic Farm Drying Up

The saga continues for our farmer friends David and Katie Pitre at Tecolote Farm. Here is a recent video and article covering the story.






6.09.2008

Water Runs Dry on Austin Organic Farm

Our farmer friends at Tecolote Farm have been one of the best quality growers serving Austin, TX for over 15 years, and now with in the last 2 years they have been struggling to stay in business. Urban sprawl is sucking up all the water, putting local agriculture out. Is irrigating ball fields more important to a community than local food? Read the article in the Austin Statesman, and watch the video...

How can you help? Here is a note from Farmers David and Katie at Tecolote Farm:

Dear Friends of Tecolote Farm,
You've probably all heard about our water wells going dry this year, or read the article and seen the video of David talking about it in the Statesman. If not, you can still read the article and see the photos and video online at:
http://www.statesman.com/green/content/news/stories/local/05/24/0524farm.
html

What can you do to help?
Thank you so deeply for your many offers to help. I have been talking to a lot of people who know the ins and outs of water usage in the area, and now I have concrete action items for you, our supporters and customers, to do to help the cause of securing our water supply. Finally, something you can do! Please take a minute to do the following:

1. **Most Important: Let's all do this before June 13th!!
Contact your County Commissioner. I have attached a sample letter you can send to him/her, and you may personalize it as you see fit. For example, expressing your relationship to the farm or expressing your appreciation of our weekly delivery service would be an effective way of letting your politician know that local family farms' success is important to you.
Also, be sure to fill in the blank lines in the letter with the appropriate information.

To find your commissioner's email address and telephone number, go to the following website:
http://www.co.travis.tx.us/commissioners_court/default.asp
You can also determine who your commissioner is there, if you don't already know. (It is important that you write to your commissioner, not ours, because your commissioner cares about your vote. Pressure on one part of the County to solve the water problem the County created will be effective, no matter which division of the County it is.)

2. Contact the media (Texas Monthly, TV stations, Dallas Morning News, or wherever you have leads), your state representative, and your state senator to alert them that you do not support rampant development near Austin without concern for agricultural sustainability. They need to know that you are upset that County wells are sapping water from your organic farm.
Find your state senator and representative:
http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/Members.htm#FYI

Thank you all, and please let us know what skills or services you have that you'd like to offer to help us stay put and keep growing veggies for you!
Sincerely,
Katie and David

6.06.2008

Home-made Sauerkraut

The art of making sauerkraut is almost lost in our part of Texas. This area is rich in German and Czech history, and the older residents of the country side still reminisce when I mention sauerkraut. Traditionally, around here, it was chopped and naturally aged in stoneware crocks then seasoned with dill or caraway seeds prior to packing in jars. It was eaten fresh and also served hot with dinner. If you can imagine, local cabbage was only in season in the late fall and spring, so a family needed to be diligent in storing their cabbage for the year using natural lacto-fermentation and salt when refrigeration was not an option.

Our family makes our sauerkraut in much the same way as they did traditionally. The beneficial fermentation process is a key to maintaining a healthy digestive system, and the natural aging process preserves the "life" of the food, making it nutritious and wholesome.

Step 1: chop your cabbage. You can use green or red cabbage. Clean and core the cabbage. I use a 10" chef knife and cut the cabbage so that I can feed it through the food processor, using the large slicing blade.

Step 2: pack your crock sprinkling about 1Tbs of REAL or Celtic Sea Salt per head of cabbage, stirring it all together as you layer your heads of cabbage into the crock. If you wanted to add beets or diced apples, now would be the time to add all those ingredients together as well. We use a few different sizes of crocks. Our 2 gallon crocks can hold up to 6 medium heads of cabbage. Our 100 year old 12 gallon crocks hold up to 36 medium heads of cabbage.

Step 3: Pound the cabbage and let rest. Notice in the first picture there is a wooden pounder in the background behind the cabbage. I use that tool to pound the cabbage down into the crock. This helps release the water from the cabbage. I cover it with a cheesecloth and let it rest overnight to see how much natural moisture extracts from the cabbage. Then I add brine mixing 4 cups of water with 1 Tbs of salt, and keep adding this brine until the water is over the cabbage. You can add more or less salt as you like.

Step 4: Ferment. Cover the kraut with a wooden disc weighed down with a clean rock or a mason jar full of water. This is to keep the cabbage down below the brine. A 1 gallon zip lock freezer bag filled with water can also work. Cover with cheesecloth or a towel and let the cabbage ferment for 7 to 14 days, tasting it daily after the first week until you get the "ripeness" you like. In cooler weather it takes longer, and the longer you let it ferment, the more "ripe" flavor progresses. If a white film covers the water, just skim it off. This is the yeast in the fermentation process and is normal. I notice it more often when the weather is warm.

Step 5: Canning. When you found that your sauerkraut is to the point of your liking, pack it into clean mason jars and store in the fridge to eat at your pleasure. You can also add additional seasonings before packing it with herbs like fresh dill or dill seed. Caraway seeds are also traditionally used. Packing it just plain is also great. Sauerkraut will keep for 3-6 months in the fridge, no problem.

Enjoy with any meal!

6.05.2008

HOMEsweetFARM Radio: Killer Tomatoes

Hi everyone, I posted an episode to HOMEsweetFARM Radio:

Farmer Brad and Jenny discuss righteous food and the concern over killer tomatoes in the market place. Are local tomatoes safe? You betcha! Click this link to check it out: Killer Tomatoes.

Come out to our up-coming Heirloom Tomato Festival, June 22, 2008. More info here... http://www.homesweetfarm.com/hsf_market_days.htm

- Farmer Brad

5.19.2008

300 Year old Food Forest

Another inspiring edible garden... Showing what a multi-generational farm can become...

4.22.2008

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World

A recent article in The New York Sun is like reading the writing on the wall. We have had many families come to us concerned about the future rationing of food. The world's shortage of wheat, rice and cooking oil is beginning to raise it's ugly head in America.

Like the Victory Garden of the old days we will need to rely more upon local food. Food that will not depend upon oil for distribution. City cousins need to mend the relationships with their country cousins now, while we are in the planting season. Don't wait for the harvest time, help support local food now.

4.10.2008

Show #4: The War On Bugs


Farmer Brad interviews Dr. Will Allen, author of The War On Bugs. Will is an organic farming visionary. A true activist, entrepreneur, and expert, he understands the complexities of farming first hand and the impact that commercialization has had... His new book is just released, The War On Bugs, "The secret history of pesticides revealed: how farmers and consumers have been conned by government, industry, and war-mongering jargon into choosing toxic food."

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE SHOW >>

3.31.2008

We left it all to be farmers

Reflecting on a recent article about young farmers in the New York Times, the folks at Barking Cat Farm in Rockwell County share this insight...

READ THIS ARTICLE...

3.27.2008

Greed In the Name Of Green

To Worshipers of Consumption: Spending Won't Save the Earth

Washington Post

Really going green means having less. It does mean less. Everyone is saying, 'You don't have to change your lifestyle.' Well, yes, actually, you do.

READ THE ARTICLE >>


3.25.2008

The Revolution will not be pasteurized

This is an incredible well researched article on raw milk. Not to be missed!
- Farmer Brad


Inside the raw-milk underground By Nathanael Johnson

The agents arrived before dawn.

They concealed the squad car and police van behind trees, and there, on the road that runs past Michael Schmidt’s farm in Durham, Ontario, they waited for the dairyman to make his move. A team from the Ministry of Natural Resources had been watching Schmidt for months, shadowing him on his weekly runs to Toronto. Two officers had even infiltrated the farmer’s inner circle, obtaining for themselves samples of his product. Lab tests confirmed their suspicions. It was raw milk. The unpasteurized stuff. Now the time had come to take him down.

Read the article here >>

3.16.2008

NY Times: Leave Behind the Trucker Hat...

An inspiring article in the NY Times, talking about the new young farmers... - Farmer Brad

READ THE ARTICLE >>

“A lot of people in our 20s went to the land and wanted to farm and had a lot of enthusiasm, but not many resources,” he said. “It has only been the last five years where the payment from working your fingers to the bone and supplying urban markets with high-quality produce has been enough where you could imagine making a living.”

Whether young, first-generation farmers constitute a flood or trickle is difficult to say. But many long-time observers of small farms say they have noticed an increase in recent years among college graduates who want to farm, even if they intern at established farms or rent tiny parcels.

3.15.2008

10 Reasons Why Organic Can Feed the World (and GM Won't)

10 Reasons Why Organic Can Feed the World
Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow
The Ecologist, March 2008

Can organic farming feed the world? Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow say yes, but we must farm and eat differently.
READ THE ARTICLE >>

3.11.2008

the milk war continues...

Fighting on a Battlefield the Size of a Milk Label

A new advocacy group closely tied to Monsanto
has started a counter-offensive to stop the proliferation of milk that
comes from cows that aren’t treated with synthetic bovine growth
hormone.

The group, called American Farmers for the Advancement
and Conservation of Technology, or Afact, says it is a grass-roots
organization that came together to defend members’ right to use
recombinant bovine somatotropin, also known as rBST or rBGH, an
artificial hormone that stimulates milk production. It is sold by
Monsanto under the brand name Posilac. READ THE ARTICLE >>

3.10.2008

HSF Radio: Show #2, Part 2

Interview with Amanda Love, The Barefoot Cook

My conversation with Amanda Love, The Barefoot Cook discussing the benefits of a traditional diet using seasonal whole foods and naturally preserved foods through fermentation. Listen to the show here >>

Resources:
http://www.soothininfusion.com/
http://www.westonaprice.org/
http://www.wildfermentation.com/

3.08.2008

HOMEsweetFARM Radio: Show#2, Part1

Amending the New Farm

Part 1: Farmer Brad discusses the soil amendments needed to start a new farm. By investing in the soil bank, you can turn neglected farmland into fertile soil, creating long-term food production for your community. CHECK IT OUT HERE >>

the truth about milk

'Frankenfoods' Giant Monsanto Plays Bully Over Consumer Labeling

By Scott Thill, AlterNet. Posted March 6, 2008.


Monsanto doesn't want consumers to know the truth about the milk they're drinking. The corporation's monopoly is at stake.

Read the entire article here... http://www.alternet.org/workplace/78660


2.29.2008

Home Sweet Farm RADIO: show #1

GRASS FARMING AND HOLISTIC LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT

A conversation with Dr. Will Winter on grass farming, holistic livestock management, preventing infectious diseases, mineralization and more. LISTEN or DOWNLOAD NOW!

Family Farms in an Era of Global Uncertainty

Well-known and respected ag economist John Ikerd shared his passion as well as his perspectives about agriculture, family farms, the environment and sustainability in presenting the 2008 Shivvers Memorial Lecture. The Leopold Center was pleased to facilitate his presentation, "Family Farms in an Era of Global Uncertainty," on February 24. If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast or read his written comments at: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/pastevents/ikerd/ikerd.htm.

2.26.2008

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,

whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,

to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death

yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie

down

in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.

His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.

What miraculous seed has he swallowed

that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth

like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water

descending in the dark?

--Wendell Berry

2.04.2008

Cloned Meat...

I only wish they would give us the opportunity to make this choice, unfortunately, cloned meat is not required to be labeled so the food buyer will never know what they are eating... (ignorance is bliss... and more profitable for the BIG guys)

1.23.2008

Animals suffer from cloning

When will the FDA wake-up? This just out a week after the US approves cloned animals for our food supply. The industrial food complex could care less about ethics, only profit and a patented food supply (with total control). - Farmer Brad

Animals suffer from cloning warns EU

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23433471-details/Animals+suffer+from+cloning+warns+EU/article.do

Farming cloned livestock should be banned because the animals suffer too much, EU ethics experts said last night.

Animal welfare campaigners welcomed the call from the European Group on Ethics.

RSPCA scientist Dr Nikki Osborne said: "Cloning causes untold suffering but is purely commercial. The cost in welfare in no way justifies any perceived benefits."

The ethics group wants safety and welfare conditions on any decision to accept clone farm food. But they are so strict they could make it too difficult to farm clones commercially.

The report was triggered after the Daily Mail revealed last January that a clone farm calf called Dundee Paradise had been born on a Shropshire farm.

Cloning breeding stock could create monster pigs and supersize cows.

But the technology means many cloned offspring die just before or soon after birth. Some have malformed lungs, hearts and kidneys.

The ethics group said: "Considering the suffering, we do not see arguments to justify production of food from clones and their offspring."

Food safety chiefs in Europe and the U.S. both, however, recently announced their support for clone farming and food.

1.21.2008

The Idea of Local Economy

As I was doing some research on local economies, I came across this wonderful article by Wendell Berry which I had to share. I feel that our local food movement is definitely an expression of what Mr. Berry is talking about, and really cannot be communicated more effectively. More coming on local economies in future posts, I'm sure... please give your comments on this one. - Farmer Brad

'The idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence..."
by Wendell Berry
Published in the Winter 2001 issue of Orion magazine

A TOTAL ECONOMY is one in which everything—“life forms,” for instance,—or the “right to pollute” is “private property” and has a price and is for sale. In a total economy significant and sometimes critical choices that once belonged to individuals or communities become the property of corporations. A total economy, operating internationally, necessarily shrinks the powers of state and national governments, not only because those governments have signed over significant powers to an international bureaucracy or because political leaders become the paid hacks of the corporations but also because political processes—and especially democratic processes—are too slow to react to unrestrained economic and technological development on a
global scale. And when state and national governments begin to act in effect as agents of the global economy, selling their people for low wages and their people’s products for low prices, then the rights and liberties of citizenship must necessarily shrink. A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits from the disintegration of nations: communities, households, landscapes, and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to “grow” by means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world…

Aware of industrialism’s potential for destruction, as well as the considerable political danger of great concentrations of wealth and power in industrial corporations, American leaders developed, and for awhile used, the means of limiting and restraining such concentrations,and of somewhat equitable distributing wealth and property. The means were: laws against trusts and monopolies, the principle of collective bargaining, the concept of one-hundred-percent parity between the land-using and the manufacturing economies, and the progressive income tax. And to protect domestic producers and production capacities it is possible for governments to impose tariffs on cheap imported goods.

These means are justified by the government’s obligation to protect the lives, livelihoods, and freedoms of its citizens. There is, then, no necessity or inevitability requiring our government to sacrifice the livelihoods or our small farmers, small business people, and workers, along with our domestic economic independence to the global “free market.” But now all of these means are either weakened or in disuse. The global economy is intended as a means of subverting them.

In default of government protections against the total economy of the supranational corporations, people are where they have been many times before: in danger of losing their economic security and their freedom, both at once. But at the same time the means of defending themselves belongs to them in the form of a venerable principle: powers not exercised by government return to the people. If the government does not propose to protect the lives, livelihoods, and freedoms of its people, then the people must think about protecting themselves.

How are they to protect themselves? There seems, really, to be only one way, and that is to develop and put into practice the idea of a local economy—something that growing numbers of people are now doing. For several good reasons, they are beginning with the idea of a local food economy. People are trying to find ways to shorten the distance between producers and consumers, to make the connections between the two more direct, and to make this local economic activity a benefit to the local community. They are trying to learn to use the consumer economies of local towns and cities to preserve the livelihoods of local farm families and farm communities. They want to use the local economy to give consumers an influence over the kind and quality of their food, and to preserve land and enhance the local landscapes. They want to give everybody in the local community a direct, long-term interest in the prosperity, health, and beauty of their homeland. This is the only way presently available to make the total economy less total. It was once, I believe, the only way to make a national or a colonial economy less total. But now the necessity is greater.

I am assuming that there is a valid line of thought leading from the idea of the total economy to the idea of a local economy. I assume that the first thought may be a recognition of one’s ignorance and vulnerability as a consumer in the total economy. As such a consumer,one does not know the history of the products that one uses. Where,exactly, did they come from? Who produced them? What toxins were used in their production? What were the human and ecological costs of producing them and then of disposing of them? One sees that such questions cannot be answered easily, and perhaps not at all. Though one is shopping amid an astonishing variety of products, one is denied certain significant choices. In such a state of economic ignorance it is not possible to choose products that were produced locally or with reasonable kindness toward people and toward nature. Nor is it possible for such consumers to influence production for the better. Consumers who feel a prompting toward land stewardship find that in this economy they can have no stewardly practice. To be a consumer in the total economy, one must agree to be totally ignorant, totally passive, and totally dependent on distant supplies and self-interested suppliers.

And then, perhaps, one begins to see from a local point of view. One begins to ask, What is here, what is in me, that can lead to something better? From a local point of view, one can see that a global “free market” economy is possible only if nations and localities accept or ignore the inherent instability of a production economy based on exports and a consumer economy based on imports. An export economy is beyond local influence, and so is an import economy. And cheap long-distance transport is possible only if granted cheap fuel, international peace, control of terrorism, prevention of sabotage, and the solvency of the international economy.

Perhaps one also begins to see the difference between a small local business that must share the fate of the local community and a large absentee corporation that is set up to escape the fate of the local community by ruining the local community.

So far as I can see, the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. In a viable neighborhood, neighbors ask themselves what they can do or provide for one another, and they find answers that they and their place can afford. This, and nothing else, is the practice of neighborhood. This practice must be, in part, charitable, but it must also be economic, and the economic part must be equitable; there is a significant charity in just prices.

Of course, everything needed locally cannot be produced locally. But a viable neighborhood is a community; and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common. This isthe principle of subsistence. A viable community, like a viable farm, protects its own production capacities. It does not import products that it can produce for itself. And it does not export local products until local needs have been met. The economic products of a viable community are understood either as belonging to the community’s subsistence or as surplus, and only the surplus is considered to be marketable abroad. A community, if it is to be viable, cannot think of producing solely for export, and it cannot permit importers to use cheaper labor and goods from other places to destroy the local capacity to produce goods that are needed locally. In charity, moreover, it must refuse to import goods that are produced at the cost of human or ecological degradation elsewhere. This principle applies not just to localities, but to regions and nations as well.

The principles of neighborhood and subsistence will be disparaged by the globalists as “protectionism”—and that is exactly what it is. It is a protectionism that is just and sound, because it protects local producers and is the best assurance of adequate supplies to local consumers. And the idea that local needs should be met first and only surpluses exported does not imply any prejudice against charity toward people in other places or trade with them. The principle of neighborhood at home always implies the principle of charity abroad.
And the principle of subsistence is in fact the best guarantee of giveable or marketable surpluses. This kind of protection is not “isolationism.”

Albert Schweitzer, who knew well the economic situation in the colonies of Africa, wrote nearly sixty years ago: “Whenever the timber trade is good, permanent famine reigns in the Ogowe region because the villagers abandon their farms to fell as many trees as possible.” We should notice especially that the goal of production was “as many as possible.” And Schweitzer makes my point exactly: “These people could achieve true wealth if they could develop their agriculture and trade to meet their own needs.” Instead they produced timber for export to “the world economy,” which made them dependent upon imported goods that they bought with money earned from their exports. They gave up their local means of subsistence, and imposed the false standard of a foreign demand ("as many trees as possible") upon their forests. They thus became helplessly dependent on an economy over which they had no control.

Such was the fate of the native people under the African colonialism of Schweitzer’s time. Such is, and can only be, the fate of everybody under the global colonialism of our time. Schweitzer’s description of the colonial economy of the Ogowe region is in principle not different from the rural economy now in Kentucky or Iowa or Wyoming. A total economy for all practical purposes is a total government. The “free trade” which from the standpoint of the corporate economy brings “unprecedented economic growth,” from the standpoint of the land and its local populations, and ultimately from the standpoint of the cities, is destruction and slavery. Without prosperous local economies, the people have no power and the land no voice.