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This weekend, fellow co-workers, Jared and Ben, took my open air classroom on the road to two, other organic farms. Both are located just a few miles from Abbondonza. Seeing the style, focus and size of other farms gave my whole project perspective. First stop...Oxford Farms. They have a small CSA program, attend a couple farmer's markets per week but primarily focus on supplying food to local restaurants. We were greeted by the owner, John Brown, who is an authority on soil science. For an hour, we stood amongst rows of popping veggies talking about soil ecology and his biological farming practice. I could take a semester long course on the subject and not learn as much as I did in that one hour. Here are a few nuggets for you to chew on...1) Want to get the sugars up in your vegetables to make them sweeter? Pay attention to the calcium and magnesium balance in the soil. 2) Want soil that holds more nutrients and retains water better? Add more clay. 3) Your veggies are only as good as your soil. Not just for how they grow but for how they taste and how nutritious they are. You can farm organically but if you don't remineralize your soil you'll have less wholesome, blander tasting vegetables. 4) Take the last three fun facts and consider what is in your daily vitamins. Most of what we take vitamins for are what nutrient dense farmers amend their soil with. Perhaps if we paid more attention to our soil which fed our vegetables, we wouldn't have to take vitamins. Hhmmm! I was in love with their processing center where vegetables come to get ready for market. Take the virtual tour of their streamlined process. Click here!

Second visit...Ollin Farms. They have a robust CSA program with over 140 shareholders, attend two farmer's markets each week but have also diversified by offering a variety of agritourism options including pick-your-own strawberries, road-side farm stand, summer veggie camp for kids and an outdoor banquet facility. But my favorite product offering is their family dinner. The typical cost of a barn dinner is over $100/person pricing most people out of consideration. Ollin's "family" dinners are just that, for the family and only cost $30/person. Pictured above in the red shirt is the farm manager, Chad, with two of his happy shareholders who do a work trade.My co-workers, Jared and Ben, are the ones wearing the fashionable fedora hat and the maroon shirt, respectfully. We caught Chad and team on break giving us a chance to learn more about what makes their farm one of the more profitable farms in the area...access to city water which enables them to plant earlier, be the first to market each season and as a result turn crops over faster. The winning feature of the day was their lettuce spinner. You've probably never considered doing this with your washing machine....Check it out, click here!

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If you let your plants go, they will bolt or flower. Here is what spinach looks like when it has bolted. Let it bloom and dry up and you'll get seeds.

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Want a salad of mixed greens? Just plant a variety of greens really tight together in one bed. When ready, just go through with some scissors. Leave enough at the base so the lettuce can regrow and enjoy garden, fresh greens all summer.

9/10/2012 05:40:35 am

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