Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mid-May already!

Saturday JUNE 7th @ 10AM
CSA Orientation and Farm Tour
The days are getting very warm and long, but the nights are still cold enough to have to heat our greenhouse. The pasture is filling out with luscious new grass and clover. The animals are well on their way through their first grazing. They graze intensively small sections at a time, and as we move their fences, they will make over five rotations around our small back pasture.
As for the garden, all of our onions are in the ground, our peas are finally coming up after that April drought, and we are beating back the sodden cover crops to plant out broccoli and cabbage transplants. Tomatoes are still enjoying the greenhouse tropics. Squash and cucumber seeds are hibernating on the seed shelf.... so we are reminded that it is indeed still early, despite some very warm sunny days.
As for our other projects-- the barn renovation, the apprentice cabins, the fencing infrastructure, and don't forget the bureaucratic zoning issue-- all of them are at a "one step at a time" phase.
That last project, deserves a little more elaboration. The town of Scarborough has a few zone and ordinance issues that stand in our path to farming the way we intend. Specifically,
1. A farm camp does not fit into a farm zone;
2. No allowance for seasonal apprentice housing;
3. No public events;
4. No value added kitchens;
and finally,
5. No piggeries in Scarborough!
And so we find ourselves underway in the process of applying for a Contract Zone Agreement with the town hall; a custom designed zone, much like the zone which allows Cabela's or the Range Rover dealership to build their stores. Except instead of earning permission to build a 5 acre parking lot, or put up enormous signs, or circumvent certain taxes, we hope to gain the right to ... farm. The way we want to. This process has been incredibly educational for us, and we have gained new insight into one of the lesser known barriers to a local food system: Government regulation. We don't want to give anyone the impression that we have anything less than 100% support from everyone at the Town Hall, including the enthusiastic support of our Town Councilors, and the Planning Board. Everyone from the state's Department of Agriculture to our next door neighbors seem to love what we are doing and want to support us. The Rules, however suggest a different encouragement. Not surprisingly, zoning rules, ordinance regulations, health and safety codes, labor regulations, etc, etc, are all designed for a non-integrated agricultural industry. People live Here; Farms live Over There. Convention dictates that farms -- food production-- are separate from education, recreation, and community. Well, that is not the way we farm. And we would venture to say, that's not the way farming can survive. Diversified farming is a diversity of crops and livestock, but also a diversity of income streams. So this is what our Contract Zone looks like...
That's our diversified farm divided into succinct partitions... Trust us, it looks even worse "on paper" but it looks great in real life.
For those in the CSA we will be starting the distributions hopefully by mid June. (We will keep you posted on how things are growing.) We thought it would be helpful if, in early June, we host a tour of the farm, and also offer a "dry-run" on how CSA members will collect their harvest. The first distribution is always a little rocky, so this season we will try harder to orient people before the first harvest. Save the date: Saturday, June 7th CSA Orientation and Farm Tour.
Come by at 10 am and bring a picnic to enjoy with your family.

This is of course assuming that #3 of our Contract Zone "Public Events" goes through! Seriously, we think this bureaucratic work is "interesting" and worthy of discussion. How can we work towards a more practical solution of the survival of diversified farm, and our local food system (what is left of it)? Without relying on "Grandfathered" code violations or the "blind eye" of a permissive code enforcer, a small diversified farm doesn't stand a chance. We'd love to hear what you have to say. This Blog allows you to comment on any topic, so if you feel so inclined, comment-away!

We will be setting up pick up groups in the coming weeks. If you want to be in a pick-up group but did not indicate as such on your registration form, please email: and let Stacy know.

Blessings on the meal
-John and Stacy-

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