Saturday, March 20, 2010

Roll with the punches...tomorrow is another day

Okay so I stole the title for the post from the movie Jerry Maguire, which is not exactly my favourite, but the point of the quote seems fitting for the context of the blog post.

On our Skeeter Farm blog we have tended to focus on writing nice shiney, happy posts about things like sunshine, bountiful harvests and lady bugs, the sense of community, success of our business and hopes and dreams for the future. I would say what we talk about paints a 90% accurate depiction of our experiences farming thus far. What we have hesitated telling our readers about is that other 10% of the time where we are dirty, sweaty, sore, have feelings of frustration and defeat, unhappy about something or other and all the time spent scratching our hundreds of bug bites. These not so great things I think we have come to realize are part of farming, growing and running a business in partnership, and life in general.

Overall, we have managed to balance out the good with the not so great and come out on top which is really our motivation to keep on going. BUT, then something really crappy happens that in some ways knocks us back to square one.

This week we discovered that the farm had been broken into (for the second time) and most of our equipment that we worked hard to purchase last year is gone. Most of our irrigation system, our (borrowed) rototiller, marketing supplies, and other misc. items that are to us, very valuable but to anyone other than a small farmer, are probably worth very little, were stolen.

Now, its not really surprising that our site would be a target to thieves. We are pretty isolated with no neighbours in earshot of the site, and no one living on the farm. We thought we had taken reasonable measures to lock up our equipment but obviously what we had done was no deterrent for the thieves.

The more we talk about what has happened, the more stories we are hearing about how this is actually a pretty common occurrence in the farming world. Which, for any farmer I would imagine is really hard to deal with. It stinks to think about our profits being cut this year by having to purchase our equipment again. And if we do manage to replace what we have lost, how do we keep it from being stolen again?

Post break-in discovery we wallowed in our frustration and hopelessness for a bit but have now switched to problem solving mode. We are trying to figure out how increase the security of our storage, and come up with creative ways to replace what we have lost without going out and buying brand new shiny equipment. We scouring craigslist to see if our equipment turns up and trying to talk to as much people as possible to raise awareness of this issue that leaves new farmers and their potential success vulnerable to the motives of the thieves of the world.

Hannah said to me the other day that if this had happened to us last year, she wouldn't be farming. I think that may be true for myself too...having our equipment stolen in our first season would have been enough to turn us away from trying to start a farm business forever. With that, I am thankful that we have had a season under our belt and have been able to experience the joys that come with growing food for our community and I am thankful that this didn't happen midseason in the height of things and I am thankful for all of the things that we do still have, like our seeds, that we will need to continue this season. We are all thankful for the support folks have offered us in these trying times.

I would imagine that the farm bandits who took advantage of Skeeter Farm are much less cute than us.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

And then there were four!

Hooray! We are super excited and thankful to have found a fourth person to join Skeeter Farm for this season.

Amanda Smith was one of the many wonderful folks who sent in an "application" to farm with us this summer and we would like to welcome her to our team! We were surprised and overwhelmed with the interest in joining us this season. The amount of emails we had about our posted position is really a testament to the growing interest in farming around the Lower Mainland, dispite what popular discourse may lead you to believe.

Amanda, like the three of us, has a full time job and resides in the Township of Langley. She has no prior "farming" experience but her passion for food and farming shines through when she gets talking. We will spend the next few weeks getting her up to speed on how we do things around the farm before the season takes off.

The addition of one more dedicated farmer is a real plus this year as we learned last year that our biggest limiting factor was time. Its one thing to have the time to prepare your soil, plant a bunch of seeds, and maintain your crops...but its a whole other ball game when it comes to getting crops out of the field, prepped and marketed. Amanda will be helping us in the field but is also very interested in the farmers market side of things. We are hoping that the addition of one more farmer is just the thing we need to help us reach our business goals this year.

Welcome to Amanda!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lil' Update from your Farmers

Although we have not be regularly communicating via the blog as of late, there has been a flurry of activity in the last couple of months to get ready for the season. A quick recap for those folks who are interested:

- we have launched our CSA program for the year and information is up a the blog on a posting below
- we are looking for a fourth person on for the farm. We have received quite a few "applications" from interested folks and have begun to meet people, but would still like to hear from more. Even if you don't become our next business partner there are still other ways to get involved in farming and we would like to talk to you!
- the seeds have arrived (for the most part), and we are way ahead on starting transplants this year when compared to last year. Getting an earlier start also means that we can grow a much broader variety of crops
- we purchased a 90' hoop house which has successfully arrived at the site. The next step is to get it erected. In the meantime we are lucky to have the use of two other greenhouses for our transplants
- quite a few building projects planned including bat houses, tables, some kind of sheltered area and a bit more storage for equipment.
- the garlic is 4" high!
- business planning, financial statements, time tracking, blah. I am so happy that Hannah has volunteered to be the business management lead this year. It means that I can concentrate on crop planning and planting and the things that I like to do.
- our website is up.... almost. It looks good if you use a mac. But PC users wont be able to view it properly. the problem should be fixed soon. it was my first time building a website so there were certainly some errors made on my part.

Thanks everyone for your support so far this year. It has been great hearing from some of our regular customers and also meeting some new ones!

Happy to be getting dirty again...