Archive for December, 2013

2014 seed order

After carefully reviewing the following seed catalogs, the 2014 seed order has been placed:


Here’s what will we be growing this season, in no particular order:

Green beans, sweet corn, snap peas, cucumber, kale, turnips,  zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, lettuce,  beets, radishes, leeks, onions (green, yellow, red), spinach, arugula, swiss chard, parsley, mizuna, pac choi, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, peppers (hot and sweet), potatoes (yellow and red), tomatoes, basil, cilantro, strawberries, husk cherries, and several varieties of cut flowers.

If there is some sort of vegetable you’re interested in, but is not in this list, let us know, we’ll do our best to grow it for you!

Supplies for small farmers

Small farmers need equipment and supplies just like large scale growers, but finding the items in the quantities they need at a price that is reasonable can sometimes be difficult.  I thought it might be helpful to share the websites of companies we use here for things such as seeds, berry tills, bags, rubber bands, twist ties, seed starting supplies, business cards, and soil amendments.

For seeds, we use primarily Fedco Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  Both have a fantastic selection of seeds and tools and cultural information about the seeds they sell.  Fedco has fantastic prices on their seeds, especially at very small packet sizes, so if you are a small home gardener, Fedco prices are very tough to beat.

For seed starting supplies, such as 1020 trays, pots, and small plastic labels, we use either Novosel Enterprises or the Greenhouse Megastore.  The deciding factor come purchase time tends to be which one is having the better sale.

For market supplies, such as paper bags, plastic bags, scales, berry tills, signs, and twist ties, we use Glacier Valley.

At the beginning of our first season, we used rubber bands of various sizes for our produce that is sold in bunches, but over time, we switched to using large twist ties as it is easier and takes less time.  These can be found here.

For soil amendments and cover crops in small quantity, we use Fedco Organic Growers Supply.  If you need larger quantities, find a local source, as the shipping costs of large amount of these items become prohibitive.


The age and disappearance of the American Farmer

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for every one farmer under the age of 25, there are 5 farmers who are 75 or older.  We are losing farmers faster than we can replace them.  It is a rate that is not sustainable.  It is very difficult for a young person or family to enter the farming industry.  Land costs are at record high, equipment cost can be prohibitive, and typical returns per acre for certain crops are extremely low.  Yet we need young farmers to replace the ones who are leaving the industry.

Farms are disappearing.  The government defines a farm as an entity that sells at least $1000.00 of agricultural related products a year.  By these terms, there were 2.2 million farms operating in the country in 2007.  Less than one percent of the country claim farming as an occupation, and of this one percent, only 45% of them claim farming as their main source of income.   By way of comparison, in 1935, the U.S. population was 127 million and of those 6.8 million were farmers.

Farmers feed the world.  Farmers clothe the world.  It is an occupation that needs to be filled, but few are waiting in line to fill it.  It is an honorable profession, it is a difficult profession, and it is an underpaid profession.

Farming is just as much art as it is science.  Sure, if you drop a seed in the ground, it wants to grow. However, certain areas of farming are not learned in the class room, or read in a book, magazine, or scientific journal.  The classroom will not teach anyone the proper day to harvest sweet corn.  A scientific journal will not get you any closer to harvesting lettuce on time before it gets bitter.  These tasks are learned, hands on, in the field, by the farmer.  Through careful observation, trial and error, even sometimes luck, farmers develop skills and abilities that make them experts in the crops they grow.  If these skills and abilities are not passed on to the next generation of farmers, they are lost, unless by chance their methods are discovered by another farmer.

Luckily, for whatever reason, the local food movement is causing young people, with no prior training or experience in the farming industry, to become farmers.  There are countless blogs and facebook pages telling the stories of young adults, many of whom have college degrees in unrelated fields, who quit their jobs to return to the land and farm.  A larger portion of the population is beginning to understand the dangers of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, not just as it effects us, as consumers, but as it effects the soil and the health of the earth as well.  More people want organic food, and many also want locally produced organic food.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers’ markets are saving the small American Farm.  There is no better way to support a local farmer than by shopping at a local area farmers’ market or by becoming a member of a CSA.  By shopping at a farmers’ market, the customer is getting an extremely fresh product,  often times, a unique product, that can not be found anywhere else, except at local markets.   The farmer is right there, to ask any questions about how it was grown, when it was harvested, or what the best way to cook it is.  Through this interaction, a wonderful relationship develops, between the grower, and the customer.  This relationship is what I enjoy most from farming.

To the patrons of the Alta West Farmers’ Market and the Shelby Farmers’ market:  Thank you for bringing our produce into your homes and onto your tables.  Because of your support, we are now proud to count ourselves among the 1 percent of American Farmers.


We’re now on facebook!

Saltzgiver Family Farm can now be found on Facebook as well as here on wordpress!