We’ve all heard the expression “it takes a village to raise a child” and as a mother of two small children, I couldn’t agree more. It occurred to me the other day that the same can be said for starting a farm – especially when most of your knowledge comes from books and gut instinct.
We are lucky to live in a place where the farming community is both tight-knit and extremely friendly. Farmers want other farmers to succeed. The advice that we hear again and again is, “if you want to know anything about soil conditions, flooding, equipment, you name it…ask your neighbor.” And we have.
Our farm is adjacent to Bob’s Corn and Chinook Farms, two well-established farms with deep roots in the community. The owners of these farms, Bob Ricci and Eric Fritch, have been gracious with their time and wisdom. Both have been invaluable sources of knowledge on local conditions, machinery, cultural practices and sourcing material. For example, Eric put us in touch with a source for tall tunnels–semi-permanent greenhouses covered in clear plastic – with a product both superior in design and less expensive than any we were able to find ourselves. And, since Eric’s tractor is much bigger than ours, he’s been helping us plow our fields this week! The other day, Bob’s crew filled in the many potholes in our shared driveway; it was a very nice surprise. As a bonus, we get to hear Bob’s amusing anecdotes about the previous owner and farming in general.
But aside from the wealth of information that we’ve gleaned from other farmers, our friends and local community have embraced this crazy dream of ours too. In searching for partners to host pick up sites for our CSA, I posted a message on a listserv for moms (and dads too!) in the greater Greenlake area. Within 24 hours, I received responses from five people who were enthusiastic to help out. These are people I’ve never met, complete strangers who simply want to help a new farmer. Wow. Needless to say, I was really touched and blown away by this.
Maybe it’s goofy to gush over the generosity of others on a blog but I’m going to do it anyways. We couldn’t be more thankful for the help and support we’ve received to date. From sounding boards to technical expertise to every person who has encouraged us along the way. Since I don’t want to forget anyone I won’t list names, but suffice it to say that this growing list is one for which are very, very grateful.