Monday, February 19, 2007

Winter Wonderland

We can hardly get enough of all of this snow! Mr. Smeems is quite taken with it as well! We finally, after years of hemming and hawing (sp?) about getting our own x-country equipment finally bought our own gear. It really has been wonderful going down to the Intervale and interacting with that environment this time of year. We finally ordered all of our seeds last week, and continue to work on the house process, meanwhile....let it snow!

Mr. Smeems tunneling through 3' of snow at the farm

Mr. Smeems getting back to his burrowing roots!

Mr. Smeems warming up in the hoophouse

The field in winter

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home is where the revolution is

Well, well, well! We have officially reached our personal 5-year goal! Our vision was to farm on 1 acre by ourselves and make enough money to put a down payment on a house. That vision was officially realized yesterday when we signed a contract for a 3 bedroom ranch in a great neighborhood here in Burlington! We expect to move in mid-April after we re-do the floors and update it a bit. We are quite excited and can barely believe it's happening. It has been such an amazingly surreal winter for us with so many major changes in our life beginning with Terra Madre in Italy, the unexpected death of Mara's father before Thanksgiving, the long drives between Denver & Burlington over the holidays, the amazing PASA conference, planning meetings with chefs and wholesalers for the season, ordering 215 varieties of veggies from new seed sources, getting involved deeply with the Slow Food Vermont movement, Spencer taking an Organic Chemistry class for fun, Mara taking an Auto Shop class for fun, buying a home, hiring an employee and deciding to get a friend for Mr. Smeems, our dachshund! To say the least, we are reeling a bit, but know that we've been making good choices along the way and have been enjoying being a part of Mara's strong and supportive family during difficult times.
One of the main reasons for buying a house was to have an extensive dining area so that we can host dinners and discuss the food revolution with our friends, customers, chefs and other folks that are interested in this great food movement. We have definitely outgrown our 400 square feet at the housing co-op that we live in, and can't wait to share our new home with you! More pictures to come as we go through the inspection process and updating process this Spring!
Some more house pictures!
The backyard, which is begging for a deck and a door from the middle section - the dining room.

Two big bedrooms like this one

The living room has hardwood floors under this carpet, and saloon doors to the hallway!

The kitchen is in need of updating, but is great for now. The room off to the side is technically a third bedroom, but will be our formal dining room. This is the room that will open to the backyard.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Our "Occupassion"

PASA 2007 is over, and boy are we jazzed to start our season! We met some tremendous folks (as always), and learned a lot (as always)! We gave three presentations this year - the titles are as follows: "We Made $50K on one Acre!!", "The Nuts & Bolts of Small-Scale Microgreens Production", and "Farm Market Stands That Sell!". All were well attended, and you can get a CD recording of each of these sessions as well as a DVD recording of the $50K talk! There were some fantastic keynote speakers this year - all with a slightly different message: James Howard Kunstler, Joel Salatin, and Michael Abelman. All are heroes of ours and all are quite good speakers. The PASA conference boasted 1700 attendees this year, coming from every state and 4 countries! The dynamic demographic of this conference is always something to behold, and gives us hope for this food movement we are a part of. I said earlier in our blog concerning the Terra Madre conference in Italy, that it is amazing that they can pull together so many people with just 30 folks organizing the conference. Well, PASA gives me hope that us Americans can do the same thing - the total conference organizers for this conference is something in the vicinity of 5 people! They really pull it off well with stellar speakers and great folks in the trade show as well. We loved the rally cry from Joel Salatin - who suggests that we should "opt out" of conventional agriculture and the current food system we have. He reminded us that what sets us modern-day sustainable farmers apart from our conventional farmer counterparts is that what we have is an "occupassion" that is hard to squelch. The energy generated from our occupassions is what is going to help us to change the face of our food systems forever. Then we heard from James Howard Kunstler, who gave us the hard future vision of a society that needs to source everything locally because of peak oil and the rape of the American Landscape. He is the author of The Long Emergency and is quite the grumpy curmudgeon, but at least he's thought out his vision thoroughly and has some suggestions for us. Our last keynote speaker was Michael Abelman, who we've seen speak before, and he reminded us that what us farmers are doing is great and exactly what we should be doing to tie us to our communities and to our landscape. His most recent book Fields of Plenty highlights a summer-long tour across the US with his son to seek out farms and see what folks are doing out there. It's inspirational and reminds me why we do what we do. So! To say the least, we are excited and invigorated with all of our interactions over the weekend, and hope to bring that energy to the Slow Food VT dinner being held at Mary's at the Inn at Baldwin Creek this Thursday. Keep checking back for updates on upcoming Slow Food and VFN events! Some other pictures of the PASA conference:

The conference hall were we were fed all PA products from PASA member farms!
More pictures to come!