Thursday, July 23, 2009
Our last farm blog post was in early June, so obviously we're doing a very poor job updating the blog this season. The reason is that most of the communication action has quickly moved to Facebook. Its faster and easier. Feedback is much quicker. I'm using the chat box to answer inquiries. And many many other useful features. We may get back to more blogging this fall and winter, for longer articles. But for now, please join our group page at Facebook to get our latest news and updates. Messages are very short. At Facebook, just search for "Church View Farm" and you'll find us. Just join our farm page there. To find our personal Facebook pages just go to www.facebook.com/stevenmartinwv or www.facebook.com/ruthmartinwv If any questions, just email or call. Thanks.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
This blog post is overdue as the 2009 farmers market season is well underway. Tomorrow will be the 3rd Wednesday market at the Bottling Works in Romney. The growing season has started out slow as its been very cool. It was only 40 degrees the other night! Our high tunnel will save the early season as we have green tomatoes on plants in the high tunnel. Still have lots of spinach and salad mix. The spring moisture has our fields full of clover and the bees are doing the job. There is also a ton of blackberry blossom this year. A lot of communication is also now on our Facebook Page. Become a fan, just search "Church View Farm" on Facebook or click Here. You can set your permissions to be as public or private as you like. Periods of economic turmoil lead to new opportunities and many new companies are started in these difficult periods. People must retrain to do other work. We've learned (or relearned) that bigger is not necessarily better, ie GM, Citigroup, AIG, etc. Better quality and service is more highly valued. The barriers are falling. If you remember the Japanese car import craze, that was a hint of what's coming. You may someday have an Indian vehicle (Mahindra farm tractors are from India and are already very popular) and you may use a bank in Switzerland or Singapore. The world is moving past search engines to "decision engines" and "knowledge engines" See Bing at www.bing.com or Wolfram/Alpha at www.wolframalpha.com. This is a real opportunity for smaller producers and companies. The homestead farms of the past are not the same as the web enabled sustainable farms like ours that are now evolving. Lastly, please note the Revolution Money button in the right margin. For those that prefer an instant payment solution instead of carrying cash, you might give that a try. Its just like PayPal but there is no cost to use the system. See www.revolutionmoneyexchange.com or www.revolutionmoney.com for details. I'm all for making things as convenient as possible. Especially for something like a CSA box, all the payment details can be done in advance with no time wasted making change or handling paper money. Then its just a matter of handing you your box or order.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The folks at Sustainable Table that manage the Eat Well Guide have developed a really useful tool. Its at http://www.eatwellguide.org/travel_map Its another of the very useful tools that utilize Google Maps and integrate links to useful information right from the map itself. Basically you put in your travel plan, that is your departure point and your destination. Then you'll get a guide to all the markets, restaurants, farms, etc that are on your route that you may want to visit. You can create a printable document to take with you if you wish. A very handy tool. We like to visit farms and markets when we are on the road also. Even just plotting a short trip to Virginia, I discovered many places that I wasn't aware of. Check out the tool, very useful and nicely done.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
West Virginia University Journalism School students Leann Arthur and Andy Smith did a senior capstone multimedia project about our farm. They visited the farm twice last month. The link is http://wvuncovered.wvu.edu/stories/hampshire_county/sustainable_farming
The journalism department has an an entire series called WV Uncovered on their web site which is excellent. Really nice how they integrated the Google Map on their web site to point out all the locations where they did stories. The slides and video look very nice and included all of the animals. Since it was March everything was brown, I just wish the fields and woods had been green and growing. So check out the article and video and tell us what you think.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Church View Farm is now on Facebook. The motivation for it came from web consultant Small Farm Central and Three Springs Farms in Aspers, PA where a dynamic 22 year old farm manager has brought their farm into the future. I also figured that if Facebook is good enough for Bill Gates, then there must certainly be something to it. On Facebook, (www.facebook.com) just search for "Church View Farm" and you'll find our page. Its another way for us to keep in touch with everyone throughout the season. Its a good way to publish a message, photo or video, and get it out to everyone very quickly. And as the chart shows, all of these tools now coexist online. If you become a "fan" of Church View Farm, you'll get notified about events and updates. Our "fans" will likely get offered some discounts. No one is really sure where on line social media may be going. Just like no one is really sure about where something like alternative energy or biofuels may be going. Social media certainly exists now, for example if you are in a book club, a garden club, a study group, an alumni group, or a church class, you are doing social media, whether you realized it or not. If you have ever given someone an article to read or told then about a good book or movie, you are doing social media. When farmers/growers and customers do social media, its a real opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other. Custom growing is perfectly suited to this. For ex, we are growing sorrel, tuscan kale, purslane, specialty greens and other items based upon customer request. Doing this interaction on line say via Facebook will lead to more inquiries on line and more custom growing. We'll be planting and growing things next year that we are not even the least bit aware of today. On line, it all just happens a lot faster. Instead of growing things, and taking them to market hoping they will get sold, we can instead grow things that are in effect already sold, because we have already connected via a messaging system like Facebook. Solving supply/demand mismatch is the key to success. You see this in commerce all the time, and organizations that don't master it can not succeed. (Think Circuit City) These social media tools can solve this by helping communicate in advance. 5 years ago, no one really knew where Google was going either. Its all being created on the move. Now your Senator is doing Twitter updates and your President is taking your questions on line. Who ever would have thought?
Monday, March 23, 2009
I've been finding some very interesting reading at a great blog called New Geography. The suburbs that we used to know are pretty much over with. Too car dependent. People want something better and more sustainable. Very interesting article here about nice homes situated close to working farms. Which is quite hopeful as in the past farms were often lost to make way for more housing. With this new approach, both are better off. I thought the quote "Agriculture ... is the new golf" was quite interesting. The only thing I would have added is that there are plenty of appealing small towns already located close to farms and orchards. Not really necessary to build new. McMansions no longer work, in the same way that industrial agriculture no longer works. What is happening is that we are going back in time, to small towns and homestead farms, but applying new knowledge to it to make it not only sustainable but even better than before.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Lambing season is finally behind us - we had an action packed 4 day event! Our flock is small, five ewes, but the Katahdin breed often has multiple births. Although we stayed up late and woke up early to check on progress, and were available to assist, we didn't have any birthing problems or malpresentations. This year's lamb total is nine. No triplets this year. All but one ewe had twins. The single baby was almost 13 pounds. Birth weights ranged from 7lb 8oz to 12lb 14oz - and the largest and smallest were from the same momma! The average weight was 9lb 7oz. All babies and mommas are doing great. Milk production is good and all lambs are getting as much as they want. It's comical because the babies go around and "sample" from other mommas when the opportunity presents itself. It's very clear at nap time what babies and mommas belong together. We've updated our records so we know which ones go together! Hope you enjoy the video and pictures. If you'd like to come out to the farm and see these little ones just give us a call. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Monday, February 16, 2009
Hi everyone, This is a long overdue blog post and our new season is about to begin. Lots of good information to read this winter with the proliferation of blogs and web journals. One blog I have really enjoyed this winter is Jon Katz's Bedlam Farm Journal. We've read many of his books this winter. Since we also own an energetic border collie with a mind of her own, our Zoey, his stories about his farm and dogs are always interesting to us. Still catching up on many other good books also. Lots going on in the background to prepare for the new season. For example, we've just picked up a glass front fridge, also called a merchandiser, which will hold farm products for sale. We also picked up a commercial ice machine so anyone traveling a long distance can have ice for their coolers in hot weather. Folks can just come by and get what they need, even if we are not around and there will be a drop box for invoices and payments. Looking forward to trying lots of new varieties in 2009, especially for things like herbs, kale and salad greens. We had a -5 degree night a few weeks back and some very high winds last weekend. We'll be planting more red raspberries and another batch of fruit trees. Many of our current fruit trees are 3-4 years old and we're expecting our first market sized yields in 2009. With the help of WVU, we now have an organic management plan ready for our fruit tree management. We'll be putting in our first polyculture plot which is an approach now "pioneered" by Ohio State University. This "new idea" actually dates to the 1860's if you can believe it, and is documented in a book entitled "Ten Acres Enough". It combines high, mid, and low plantings to reduce pest pressure. Its looks to be a busy year all around in Hampshire County in 2009 including construction of a new river bridge for Rt 50, a new CVS store, a new hospital and many other activities. Romney was chosen as an On Trac community for the WV Main Street program which should eventually lead to some upgrades around town. We'll begin posting every few weeks again, then get back to our weekly postings as the market season begins in May. As you of course already know, both the country and economy are going through spasms of change. Efforts to prop up a consumer and oil based economy will likely fail. It will have to be replaced with something new, and it will happen in fits and starts over time. Some people are embracing it, and some are not; some are fighting it. The best at accommodating this change are those that adapt, produce and create new solutions, because the change is what creates opportunity. With much less credit available, families will have to go back to a cash economy, living withing their means. Which is pretty much the same as it has always been in mostly rural areas. The "backward" rural folks with no mortgage, no consumer debt, no car payment, and a beautiful fully stocked food pantry are looking pretty progressive right about now. If credit does expand again, say in 10-15 years, the rural folks can then go back to being "backward" once again. Thanks for all your emails and inquiries over the past few months. Its very very humbling to know our little farm blog is read around the world. Looking forward to 2009 and we'll keep you posted as best we can. Our lambing season probably begins next week.