Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Thursday, November 18, 2010

6-23-10: HMO Farm News Letter I wrote

Howdy Hungry Folks.

News from the Farm.

AFTER THE LONG WINTER, As of today we have in the ground a thriving plethora of veggies starting with 'maters, taters, onions, kale, mustards, lettuce, lettuce, lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, chives, squash, zukes, melons, eggplant, okra, basil, broccoli, cabbage and all of our favorite….MMMmmmm….GARLIC!!!

Might we add tasty Garlic Scapes to add for good measure?
This is a super specialty item and won't last long.

We have also mowed an alley crop system into our 6 foot tall cover crops and will be planting Monday into these no till blocks with peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cukes, sunflowers & more lil' maters into our intercropped alley cropping system.

The wind rows are performing marvelously and protecting our plants from the constant wind and direct sun. In addition our home grown 200,000 gallon above ground irrigation pond lovingly named the "skeeter breeder" is now pulling water directly from a snow melt creek and irrigating our 5 acres.

This monster consists of nothing more than 200 straw bales, a pond liner, t-posts and fencing to contain the volume. Truly awesome.

Living up to its name the breeder is its own ecosystem and has inspired us to put fish into the pond for pest management, fertigation, food, and super Frankenstein farming!

Lastly, a fresh harvest of delicious food has arrived straight from the farm to the coolers at the Hungry Mother HQ.  We are scheduling our harvest for about every other day, go and get some, Very tasty!!

Keep growing!
Well keep feeding you

The Hungry Mother Farm Team

6-13-10: Finding my # 2, Yardbirds and Work Horses

Well with all things being said my first year as a farm manager at Hungry Mother Organics is not going so bad.

By my estimate a combination of the weather has set us back maybe 2-3 weeks, another is not having a number 2 at the farm while the need to divert my time towards the community, markets, and developing the "backyard bonanza garden" at the farm stand is left unfinished or in the balance.

However I still love the work.

Another set back for sure was that I didn't get to recruit Matt McCue's farm mule Jeremy Lopez early on during the off season farm draft. He is another of our long time FVC farmer veterans and was my 1st round draft pick.

I really need a #2 so to speak of and now "nursery season" is rapidly morphing into "farm season and despite my long hours and 6-7 day work week its difficult juggling all the fastballs and telegraphed punches coming my way when the support I need is left unfilled.

But you know what? I am making it work, and making the best decisions possible, the bad ones occasionally occur but those mistakes only happen once and I am thankful for the learning curve.

Recently in the farm draft I recruited "yard bird"
He is from Sonoma/Santa Rosa, is a Navy veteran and is one of the guys the FVC and I have been helping get into agriculture over the last couple years.

Originally he was coming for a couple weeks prior to panning for gold in the Sierra's, but looks like he needs a place to crash for a season, hopefully I can help him make some money while gaining some much needed farm experience.

Thankfully Yardbird tends to look at the world a little cockeyed; and though this bird can't fly straight he sure gets a damn good job done.

For all intents and purposes I have been left pretty much to myself to run the prison farm, which is good, after all I am the farm manager and the learning curve is steep but not unbearable.

But it takes a team firing on all cylinders and if one piston doesn't fire, such as our marketing guy not selling eggs then the 40 dozen eggs per day start piling up and tasks fall more onto my lap and what valuable space we have for produce is usurped for unsold product that normally is able to sell itself.

A farm such this I am learning takes a whole team. When the support I need to manage the farm and markets is there its awesome, however I am having to run a farm when decisions needed to be made on the fly but I am forced to wait hours if not sometimes days for a resolution.

Sometimes keeping an eye on the inmates is a full time job on its own, and each time I have to leave the farm to run errands then break time begins until I get back. Which I feel as accountability speaking is the greatest drawback of HMO operating at the prison

Having Yardbird around keeps an extra pair of eyes on the guys, he helps with many farm and house chores as well as even taking Agadez the wonder pup out on walks.

Not to forget he plays a mighty fine guitar too.

Damn I like this guy, a guess a bird on the farm is worth more than two in the bush.

06-13-10: Yardbirds and Pack Mules

Well with all things being said my first year as a farm manager at Hungry Mother Organics is not going so bad.

By my estimate a combination of the weather has set us back maybe 2-3 weeks, another is not having a number 2 to help me at the farm so I can also create the garden at the farm stand. Lastly is the disorganized management above my pay grade. I should say no more.

However I still love the work.

Another set back for sure was that I didn't get to recruit Matt McCue's farm mule Jeremy Lopez early in the off season farm draft. I really needed a #2 so to speak of and now here "nursery season" is rapidly morphing into "farm season and despite my long hours and 6-7 day work week its difficult not being able to keep up on all the task.

But you know what, I picked up the "yard bird".
Thankfully he looks at the world a little cockeyed and though this bird can't fly straight he sure gets a damn good job done.

For all intents and purposes I have been left pretty much to myself without any substantial guidance from my manager which is good. However, when decisions have to made on the minute I have to wait, minutes, hours, sometimes days and beyond for resolution.

Having Yardbird around keeps an extra pair of eyes on the guys, helps with house chores and even takes Agadez the wonder pup out on walks.

Not to forget he plays a mighty fine geetar too.

Damn I like this guy, a guess a bird on the farm is worth more than two in the bush.

06-09-10: A Food Stamp Farmer Feeding the Masses

At this time I am on $200 MONTHLY in food stamps, still holding my breath for regular pay and literally feeding 9 mouths.

Add three more servings when myself, Yardbird and lil loyal companion Agadez need to eat.

But between myself, 7 incarcerated farmers, the "Yardbird" and HMO'S 1st volunteer "Petina" as well as our other HMO staff at the nursery "not on my food stamps" we are all striving to grow food and nursery plants which will fill the hungry bellies and imaginations of thousands more!

In these times its good to be able to stretch a buck.
But a whole heap higher than donkey dung BETTER to do something that can give back to thousands.

I won't pause despite potential poverty at this time.
My life, work, love, and ultimate joy is to live in a community created from the root need of food and sharing ideas, work and daily experiences.

You know my favorite part of what I do is to think of those lil' plants moving on to become something either monumental like be a child's first tomato, or the best slicer on a burger from the Sierra's.

Working normal retail, or the living out slow painful "Cubicle Death " has no interest for me. I need growth in my daily life.

A requirement of my occupation is to grow personally on a daily basis and enjoy the simple pleasure of ensuring others have safe, healthy nutritious food to put on their tables.

I think of my villagers everyday and choke back tears, I miss them.
They would be proud of me, I am doing what I promised I would when I came home.
They taught me so much.

Call me a pleaser.

06-02-10: Human Captivity & Firing Up

"They say slavery has been abolished but not for the convicted felon."
-Ice T

Well spoken and I certainly can not argue with this quote. After a lil more than a month here I'd even add beyond slavery, another human rights violation observed everyday is in the form of the food the inmates are forced to eat.

Seriously nasty, nasty stuff. Sure they are convicts, but still human beings.
Most have illness's, addiction, mental illness.
Most are not criminals coming in, only going out.

FDR believed food is a human right.
True, but the onus is also on the citizens to learn to grow food.

This reinforces responsibility, land stewardship, sustainability, community, grass roots economy and much more.

The weather is breaking, farm season is opening up with less frequent frost nights. The soil is warming up and my little tail wags to see tree buds morphing into leaves.

Today I mechanically carved out niches for an acre tater field, and about a 1/2 acres worth of onions, spinach, lettuces, carrots and "Hopi" White corn. Its good to be creative and use innovative strategies such as intercropping horticulture plants between standing wind rows of barley and rye.

Tomorrow we should be transplanting into the beds as well as be featured in the first part of a summer long series of stories which will be running in the Reno Gazette Journal.

Currently we are pumping water into our 200,000 gallon above ground irrigation pond created with nothing more than straw bales stacked 2 high, T-posts, reused fencing and way to thin pond liner which is bound to fail due to its thinness.

Despite the pond liner, Its Brilliant!!!

If all goes according to plan we will be collecting snow melt from the Sierra's until late July and then used in a gravity fed drip irrigation system for our vegetable crops.

On hot days I'd anticipate seeing incarcerated farmers running along in their boxers to cool off into the oasis. Our fat man has even offered the first belly flop.

Pretty rad place still, though working for my bosses is becoming more and more difficult due to their well….who knows.

However my incarcerated farmers are still incredibly loyal and hardworking. Though it is a prison farm, the real benefit for these guys is the open space w/out the hacks and good food we grow daily.

Its not easy, you can only expect so much output while paying 60 cents per hour. But you know the fact is they want to be out there, and they are 7 days a week, 8-12 hours per day.

In Carson I don't have any time left for personal things such as making normal friends so these guys are my friends. A motley crue for sure but you know we get along, I treat them decently, bring them food, work with them, and share a lot of laughs.

Though I am still not really being paid, my passion is the work. I even use half my monthly food stamps on the locked down farmers.

Gotta admit its weird being "boss", and I have to find balance between authority and friend. Some good advice was given recently by Michael O'Gorman who said, don't fire to much, but not to little either. So with that in mind….

A couple days ago, I caught a fella from the farm sneaking a few dozen eggs into the prison under his jacket. They are like gold on the inside, and there is a whole trade network based on this currency.

Sure I should have fired him but the man has been locked up for almost 20 years, most of it on the "hard" yards with murderers, rapists, etc. So I can't really say I blame him, I know it has been going on, but had no real proof.

Though he should have been canned, I decided to rip his ass, threaten banishment from the farm, but also show leniency. It worked. Taking away the only thing that matters to a man is a cruel exercise, he knows he did wrong.

Best part though, was that he shut down the whole smuggling ring. He went back into the prison and turned away all the business regardless of his peers threats for doing so. It meant more to be free a few hours a day than a criminal the rest.

Not to mention it also straightened out the other hooligans a little.

Come to think of it, it’s a bummer we won't see that fat guy belly flopping into the irrigation pond. Had t fire him to make an example despite being our best produce washer. But finding balance of firing to much or little was key. The man was screwing up by working too slow and eating too much food.

Damn he hated me afterwards, however I put a call in for him to his case manager and got him actually promoted to a better paying job at $1.50 per hour. All I had to say was that he was a stand up guy but I just didn't need him anymore.

Its funny, I have received hidden notes in school but never prison. He sent me one through the other inmates and thanked me as well as apologized for saying he was going to shank me as well as screw my girl friend.

When I wondered? Homey was on lock down.

Damn this place is fun. Really, what pleasure is there to be at the retail stand and deal with normal folk or some pimply kid trying to grow dope in his back yard. I can't say its fun either to grow for rich folk who can afford the best but seldom appreciate the workers who grow it.

I feed the common folk, inmates too apparently.


5-24-10: Two Farmer Veterans, One Pansy Division, A BBQ, Brothers B-Day

Matt McCue whom I met as a Peace Corps Volunteers I consider one of my closest friends, favorite people, and co-farmer veteran who helped start the FVC came to my farm last weekend.

We farmed, we jammed, he advised, I listened, and we BBQ'd for my man "Rude Dog" who was an incarcerated farmer who like the old song goes "from these prison walls I'll fly…..I'll Fly Away!!

Hate to see a good worker go, but good to see our "Saw'd off lil Midget" get out.
Hope he stays that way.

Bummer to lose my carpenter on the farm but damn good to see someone re-starting life as a free person. My hopes is that our farm brought him happiness and something to reflect on always as positive experience while growing food for others and with friends.

Back to matt. His arrival to the farm has finally marked the first occasion in our three years of farming together that he has visited "my farm". Sure he visited me in farm school, but that school, and with 40 others.

To be honest, Production'ly speaking me and the boys at the prison are weeks behind in field production. We finally planted out about an quarter acre of Kale, Collards, Cabbage, Broccoli and spinach. So far the weather has been miserable, gardens are being destroyed by the freezing nights and frequent late spring powdery storms. Though we have pushed thousands of plants we are sitting on tens and tens of thousands of beautiful orphan plants looking for some ground to call their own.

Good observations Matt also made were to go ahead and mow in our cover crops, alter our seedling mix for better germination as well as start field planting….grrr!!...that one I only wish.

Currently planned for the field production we are going to plant two successions of mixed taters amounting to about a 1/2- 3/4 acre, another acre at least throughout the season in lettuce, spinach, then we will also be doing an acre of sweet corn, 1/2 acre of sqaush-zukes-cukes and a late June planting of our winter crops of pumpkins, winter squash, and onions.

Currently we have a 1/2 acre of beautiful garlic, as well as 5 4x50ft beds of veggies seeded in: beets, radishes, carrots, kale, broccoli, spinach, and lettuce.

Before this weekend we will be also planting out beds at the Farm Stand in cabbage, kale, radishes, lettuce, mixed herbs, perennials, artichokes, broccoli, chives, and flowers. Not to mention this week we have finished the 2nd 22x40 high tunnel, dug 20 3x25ft garden beds, transplanted thousands of tomato plants to 5 gallon pots, and yes continued managing our flock of about 500 birds sputtering out a paltry 40 dozens eggs per day.

Whew….And I thought the awesome mountain bike rides behind my double wide that I steal on the National forest trails on a weekly basis would keep me busy enough….guess not.

On a home makers front, I have also hosted my first two guests over for dinner this week. A co-worker and a volunteer who works with us.

For memorial day weekend I am driving 5 hours to Santa Cruz and will be hosting 25 farmer veterans on Matt & I's alma mater farm on the University as well as some other stellar farms with the Farmer Veteran Coalition.

Agadez you ask, is doing very well is 7 months old, 70 lbs and is voracious for all farm rodents.

You all know the tale, its damn good to have a home, a loving pup, friends, family, and great crops to brave the shitty on and off spring weather.

Keep your powder dry and your plants dry and warm, then shred the trails all other times.

Happy 21st b-day nubb'n!!!
Love ya bub'

5-17-10: A good Field Day

HERE it is.

It is my mothers birthday, # not important but the date is; May 17th.

Its odd to think that two years ago officially marks the date I broke my back.

What a long strange trip it has been since that fateful fall.

To celebrate this ominous occasion today, I put my first field crops in the ground. After reading my winter blues rant, or even knowing the last two years has been all travel and no roots.

So planting a farm of my own today was monumental. After being deprived of doing so back in Niger after the fall, this to me was a very big deal.

A day to really live in the moment and appreciate life.
There is nothing I would rather be doing now.

Its late in the season, though the schedule has been hectic the wintry weather been uncooperative to say the least, but the timing has not been there, its really difficult coming into a season mid swing with a rotating mix of incarcerated farmers most without any farming experience. But that's life.

So far I am managing god knows tens of thousands of plants, seven farm workers, two locations, a new home, an energetic puppy, while also attempting any chance to mountain bike or play music.

Damn its good to be settling roots.

Back to our field: Our plant out was 8 beds, 3ft x 160 ft, it took us four hours. Not bad considering we planned it out on a whim.

My goal is UC Santa Cruz speed, last year at CASFS this job would have been done in an hour, two at the most most if we were lazy.

Farming at CASFS reminds me of the old adage while working in Colorado as a raft guide. You learn that you never have a crew as good as the one you train with….it makes a difference when everyone is learning and striving to perform optimally….most days!....or at least not trying to get dunked in snow melt rivers at 0800.

Damn funny how quality of workers skills and knowledge farming plays in production!

I can't write much more but just wanted to briefly remark on the birf'day of me mum, the anniversary of a bad break in life and our farming activities.

But you know life is like the river. Ride the wave trains, rest in the eddy's, then get out and do it all over again the next day.

It really Freak'n Rocks here!

05-10-10: Lay of the Land, Integration, Culture

Its beautiful, just beautiful.

Today was a fantastic farm day, plants were moved to market, the ground was tilled and bedded, tomorrow we transplant lettuce. Our 600 egg laying chickens are also testing new waters as pastured poultry for the second full day.

Chance permitted and I even got to spend some time off the farm at the Nursery and staked the layout for our 1/4 French Intensive garden. Even recruited a volunteer, first actually.

At the Farm Stand it was a good learning day to both stake out the garden and field questions from a customer interested in irrigation for her garden.

After a few farmers markets and events it is very obvious I am way more farmer than gardener.
But that is okay, I want to learn.
This year I intend to make my outside deck completely edible.

No, no there will be no Willa Wonka like snosberry flavored hand rails but instead a smorgasbord of heirloom tomatoes, diverse peppers, strawberries, leafy greens, and specialty products. Never done anything like this, but its important to understand both my products and customers demands.

Even met a neighbor today and talked about gardening his location.

For more integration yesterday I spoke with some folk from a local sustainability group who were making a short film for that Pepsi Refresh Everything Campaign about reusable food waste, composting and sustainable farming. Film and media is still not my thing, but I like sharing my experiences and reaching out to others interested in making the world a little tastier.

I also accepted an invite to dish out food by a local chef who will be serving frittata with eggs from our farm as well as our over wintered carrots at a very notable event. The extravaganza is called Napa's Backyard and will be a perusing of the finest food and wine dished out by many top chefs from across the world not to forget about fifty quality vineyards representing their delectable wares.

My booth mate for this event is also Miss Fitness Hawaii, should be fun. ;-)

So far what I have learned about the local culture is that they are dying for readily grown healthy food as well as to take full advantage of every outdoor activity known to man achievable from flat ground to the peaks of our lofty mountains.

With this in mind today while riding my bike I wandered towards the great mountains and discovered wonderful network of trails overlooking our farm stand. On the way out I saw a local skate park only a stones throw from my home, chatted it up with some local road surfers and even managed to carve a few bowls on my bike. Super Rad.

I have found in my line of life that integration and learning culture is easy if you use the right tools or bait. In Paris, my book Les' Miserabes lured them in, in Japan, well just being tall and American did it, Africa it was learning their ways and improving their food system, Mexico, well same as Japan but less taxing.

Here in Nevada so far I have found that right strategy is to grow food, share my harvests, and continue doing all the things I love that makes me, well me.

Things are immensely beautiful being nestled in the Mountains of the glory land.

Its good to have a home.


p.s. Oh, I was even offered a winter job to run Horse drawn carriages and snow sleighs in Tahoe last week at the farmers market. Not bad eh? First week in Carson City, since Cinco de Mayo and I'm already making friends.

Damn good life, damn good life.

5-26-10: Morning Bliss & Nevadan Winter Blues, Rant.

Its sunny, the world is waking up….the plants are awake and I try to imagine what it feels like to be a plant. A perfect harmony of function and beauty that consume, metabolize then create energy for themselves.

If I die tomorrow allow me to return as a plant. Oh to be even a blade of grass In fields such as the ones I have seen and worked would be bliss. To simply exist, plants do exibit behavior but who knows about consciousness. Personally it can be over rated.

A Life to simply grow, this brings tranquility even in my darkest hours.

Chime the ominous music……….The clouds cascading from the Sierra's begin to lower, a white blanket of dust signals the coming of the howlers; these winds drill through every stitch of clothing until the back spasms.

I mean every day is beautiful, my roasted cheeks and raccoon eyes are a testament to the suns magnificence; yet the temps never turn a shade over the mid 70's for more than a few days or a good week stretch.

Don't get me wrong the typical sunny day is nice….but come on man!!!
Minnesota already has everything in the ground.

let spring and summer start rolling in, my healthy plants are seeking new ground and thriving towards feeding rumbling bellies growing in back yard gardens.
Mine not withstanding!!

This climatic drivers ed course of on and off the brakes is killing my patience and our plants potential towards optimal growth!!!!

But on the up side, it has allowed more time to be spent on the campaign to learn and manage a plant nursery production business, greenhouse, cover crops and 600 stupid chickens.

Interesting business, not easy, but rewarding.

Por lo ejemplo, take a big breath and say it fast…...

When I roam to other retail stands selling plant nursery stock I see color, big plants, low prices and lots of abundant varieties….Yet when one looks closer one sees plant health deficiencies….when one broadens the scope to gain the bigger picture one sees a wasteful mass production system dealt in volumes where thousands of plants perish only to be restocked equally as expendable with perfect clones…….…hasn't always been like this, neither has all the rest of stuff.

Sound like a bit of a rant.
It is I guess.

Its just that myself and team working at the farm put in long hours, pain staking attention and tender care ensuring a healthy environment for our plants, yet small nurseries constantly go under or growers are locked into a system similar to mass production of turkey's, chickens, etc...

Its not easy but with the right mix of constantly shuffling plants, watering, organic nutrient managed programs……... and prison fueled poetry; our plants head to our owners looking like they are ready for life, not reaching for it.

That is the difference.
Its intent, its love.

Seriously here I am with a team of inmates growing plants to feed others.
They even have a endearing nick name, the "pansy division"……..
Its not for our gardening, but on account of the pansies we grow.
"Pansy Division"…is the name of a very peculiar punk band too!

Our lil' plants represent a little freedom I guess.

Sunday after we Cleaned up the farm anticipating a farm tour we had some brat's, chips, soda's and looked at the photos of the work we have done as well as how sexy our plants look at the retail sites.
The guys loved it, me too, everyone should see where their art is hung.

I don't mean to rant earlier about big business in the nursery world, making money is sustainability, its just a lot of good plants never find homes and countless Jules of energy are expired for what end?

The other argument is that you know that whole tomato blight that wiped out the east coast tomatoes last year? It was started from a mass producing tomato plant nursery down in the South, Alabama or something like that.

Or how about the peanut contamination, or the "CALIFORNIAN" not Mexican tomato, pepper, or spinach/ ecoli' food blights of recent history.

Hello folk, if the bad stuff is in your food its in you.

Feed yo' mama the good stuff.

Farming in Nevada Rulz.
Time to pass out from exhaustion once again.

No season like farm season.

05-06-10: Finally A Home, Very Excited

After a month of working at HMO and being promised a home for myself not to mention not being paid yet. Here I am.

Happy, loving life, and enjoying each growing day.

Agate Street, Carson City Nevada; my home is a two thousand dollar trailer with a two million dollar view. I have no table, tv, dressers, bed, couch, or night stand to hang my watch.

Instead I have a panoramic view of the Southern Range of the Sierra Nevada's, a trail head leading towards the snow peaked mountains or our farm stand down down yonder.

Yesterday I moved in half my belongings from Reno, slept on the floor, woke up and farmed away.

Today I woke up a little rigid, farmed the day away then moved in the remainder of my things from the boss's pad and talked shop over a beer. Afterwards unloaded, had a slice of cold pizza, a pbr, then off on the trusty old mountain bike.

Warms the heart thinking of the labyrinths and labyrinths of mountain track as well as all different the types of flavors to ride.

I have been scoping the scene and will hopefully be able to apply as mountain bike ranger near Tahoe. This practically equates to at least two days devoted towards shredding down them there mountains.

Back to the pad, we have signed a six month lease and will explore either moving up the chain onto the farm, or staying until the spring. In the mean time however I am going to test every scheme in the books to use my advantage the abundance of sunlight entering my home and my rad scenic deck.

On which I intend to test our farm products to grow decoration, food, and practical plants used for a common Nevada home.

Should be fun.

Ample space, good weather, awesome homegrown organic food, trails, trails, trails, and the happiest little puppy alive waiting for guests, hope to see many visitors this coming year.


4-28-10: The Simple Pleasures

I love farming.

There are many reasons to love farming, the serenity of a quiet farm, the animals, the thrill of seeing sprouts after planting, the harvests, the seasonal book ends of tasks, even the failures can be appreciated…..in time…;-)

Personally my joy sprouts from sharing my harvest with folk, sampling the diverse dishes they prepare, but most importantly seeing the light go on in a person when they instantly become addicted to food I have grown.

Like Mc'Donalds and Marlboro, my goal is to get you hooked, younger the better; kids are the most fun to work in farming, their curiosities are genuine and their questions are always the best.

Now I am working mainly with prisoners, sometimes like kids, but still fun.
Even on the best of days farming isn't easy, but it’s still a good life.

Currently I can call myself the farm manager for Hungry Mother Organics in Carson City, Nevada. Which literally is on the eastern Sierra's and Lake Tahoe. With a great team, I am working three sites, a 5 acre organic farm, a road side farm stand/nursery, as well as a 200 acre parcel of some of the most beautiful land my feet have taken me.

The 5 acre farm.
The farm is located on a prison ran by the Nevada Department of Forestry on the outskirts of town. We employ at any given time 7-10 inmates, some veterans, and grow an array of beautiful plant starts, eggs, and veggies. Our incarcerated farm is located on the Prison Ranch which includes a dairy, wild mustang adoption program, compost company, and our humble organic acres complete with worm composting, five greenhouses as well as 600 organic dumb ass egg layers.

Road Stand

Our intent is to work with locals and teach them how to grow, prepare, and store tasty food. We have all the wares to start an organic garden, high tunnels for production, nursery plants, food we grow, as well as a 1/4 acre French intensive garden inspired by my time spent farming in Santa Cruz in 2009. Trails lattice our surrounding mountains while 50,000 commuters drive past our stand per day. Not to mention there is not to big of a organic or local produced scene in town.

Our Future Farm.
Next year we will be shifting much of our production to the 200 acre farm located in Dayton, NV about a 1/2 hour from the farm stand. There currently is alfalfa, 5 acres organic (cover crops), horses and cattle. The property is encircled by a stream while the Carson River courses through the heart of the property. Though we are not biodynamic we respect its approach to "intent". Our intent is to make this an agricultural wonderland for farmer veterans or any like minded folk hell bent on making the world a little tastier or beautiful than how they found it to come live, and learn.

Sounds like all the ideals why one would go into farming doesn't it?
Though there are rough days, there is no place in the world, nor thing I would rather be doing in my life.

In a nutshell,
Now my life is to farm, enjoy food, play music, mountain bike religiously, and enjoy each passing day. Its been a long omnivore's odyssey to learn about food production, food security and how to best help train a new generation of farmers homegrown from veterans.

But what I have seen, done, and left for another location to learn all over again has been an education of a lifetime.

I won't lie, it wasn't easy getting to this point it took ridding myself of nearly all earthly possessions and setting my trail to an unknown destination. The first of stops was in the bush of Niger, West Africa.

While in Niger, I served with the FVC's founding veteran Matt McCue, after we both returned from the Peace Corps he took to farming, myself I continued my wayfaring ways and traveled countless times across the country. I charged Capital Hill, enjoyed 2 Farm Aids, and spent numerous nights for food film screenings, speaking engagements, or simply to play music with new friends. A well spent trip to learn food production ranging from northern Vermont to Southern Baja Mexico.

I have what my mother describes as "Chronic Volunteerism"

During high school I enlisted to serve in the Army Reserves and continued on through college as a medic; in the emergency rooms. My patients, primarily homeless, were veterans ranging from WWII all the way up to conflicts reaching up to my departure in May 2001.

Of the many things learned, the most important for veterans I took away was the need for a place to decompress and a chance to seek opportunity after service.

I cannot speak on behalf of a combat veteran but personally readjustment was very difficult after the Peace Corps. Luckily, working as a volunteer with the FVC was a full time endeavor that enabled me to expand my passion for farming, learn many new techniques of farming and taking my time to readjust.

Now I am farming in Nevada, who knows for how long. But what I intend to do is work diligently, treat others with respect and do my best to make my time here an effort to make the world a little more beautiful and tasty.

Feb 10th 2010: Dear Farmily from Santa Cruz

ear Farmily,

Since leaving Santa Cruz in October I have travelled across the States twice by a combination of plane, train, bus, and automobiles. Latest news is that I find myself ex-fiancé'd, living on the road, sleeping in my truck or wherever for that matter and living with a loyal dog at my side.

I am currently in Davis, but going to Santa Cruz next weekend.
Wayfaring is love.

Funding is in the balance but I am setting up the village farm in Minnesota, working for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and training my Rottweiler/ golden retriever mix to become a service dog on the farm.

Aside from a month on the farm our current tally for this last month travelling is a cross country trip and a half of over (3,000 miles!!+).

Be assured that at every nook and cranny between here and there I have been on a soap box spouting the blissful propaganda related to clean living, good food, and building community….and yes working with veterans. ;-)

You guys are often in my thoughts on this journey to figure out the world of food and I am incredibly grateful for the influence you all have had on my travels. I even walked into Jessie B in davis last week :-)

I wanted to write you guys also to inform those of you in the area that the FVC is putting together a monster of a veteran food and farming career fair in Santa Rosa on March 5th at the Veterans Hall.

Any and all are invited to attend. Some perks are enjoying free lunch, Agadez my dog, and moi !!!

To add gravity to our challenges while speaking at engagements I often ask the groups. three things:
1. Have you or anyone you know been affected by the economy?
2. Do you know a current veteran or one from any war?
3. Do you have concerns about access to good, affordable, quality, food?

Do you think its time we tried something different?

In nearly every occasion roughly 70-75% of respondents answered to all three.
And nearly seem to ponder or nod rhetorically.

I firmly believe you all are catalyst to a beautiful change we can achieve to make the world a little better than how we found it.

If any of you are in the dAvis, bay, or santa cruz area please don't be a stranger….

Come to the fair, another is in LA June, if not; You all have a home in Minnesota….If I stay;-)

In Peace,
Joshua A.

April 25th: 3 Weeks in Nevada

Less than three weeks into working at the farm and this weekend we put together the largest orders Hungry Mother has ever put out for plant starts to our retailers.

The positive comments are that the sheen and turgidity of our plants have been mentioned as the best they have ever seen from HMO. Not to boast, but I have yet to see any better starts anywhere regionally.

I was proud to send these plants out but take only the credit for a short time managing, which equals really to watering, shuffling plants and people but lazer beam focus.

All truth be told our incarcerated farmers are to be thanked for organically starting the seeds to begin their journey.

I'm really liking this place, it could be a home for a while.

From me and the prison pansies.

Keep Growing.

March 12th: Nevada, what a trip

Well I got a farm manager Job, its not the veterans village in Minnesota that I have been working on the last year. Serious bummer.

However I am working for a farm called hungry mother organics. They are a veteran ran farm operating on a 5 acre farm inside a prison. The farm produces plant starts, fresh veggies, and uses incarcerated veterans/good inmates for a little work.

This year they are starting a retail center for produce, plants, tools and such and are working to make this center both substantive in food production as well as education.

They also have a 200 acre farm down the road that they want to start developing, complete with house, organic land, and unlimited water. Best case scenario, I start managing the farm there while they focus on the other site.

I'm still so on for Minnesota, but have been getting bad juju concerning the place and our arrangements there. At any rate, if I go to Nevada, i will need to drive to Minnesota pick up my stuff and then drive through big sky country to arrive in NV. I'm actually really stoked about the drive, me my dog and open road. Awesome!

I have to admit it is a wonderful opportunity to get in with a group that is up and running.

Lets not forget Mountain biking! I'll be less than a half hour outside Tahoe and near many Holy, Holy, grails of trails. In fact the retail site is the trailhead for many of carson cities best single track....total bummer.

Anyone Wanna co pilot a cross country trip with a stranger and his dog and finish the trip with some awesome single track?

The pup shares space pretty well. ;-)