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Greentree Naturals Newsletter Winter 2010

diane at market

Buster in the snow

At this time last year, we had five feet of snow on the ground. We really don’t mind having less snow to deal with this winter. For the past couple of winters it seemed like all we did was blow or shovel snow. I don’t think we will take the snow tires off just yet; you never know what the last months of winter will bring us.

I finished teaching the 12 week Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching Course just before Christmas. I love teaching! It is very satisfying to be mentoring new farmers in our community. Five of my students are selling at the farmers market now and one started up Six Rivers on-line Market. Inspiring new farmers has become a priority across the country. In the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the average age of farm operators was 57 years old. Farmers over the age 55 own more than half the farmland in the US. The number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 is increasing, as are the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide. These statistics help me to realize the importance of growing and inspiring the next generation of farmers. I’d like to know that there will be local, organic and sustainable food systems available to me when we can no longer farm our land. I will continue to teach workshops, seminars and provide trainings as often as I can to encourage farming.

Thom left the week before Thanksgiving for a reforestation survey contract on the south coast of Oregon. This was the first time in 22 years that we spent the holidays apart. We managed to miss every holiday up until Valentines. We are hopeful that we won’t have to do this again. It made for a very different kind of holiday season, that’s for sure. Thom loves working in the woods but it has challenges when the terrain is steep, he has to drive an hour and walk a mile or two to even begin his work for the day. He has been home for a month, but soon returns to work in the woods for a few more weeks. With the economy as it is we are just thankful there is work for him to do for income. Thom will return for about three weeks of work outside of Gold Beach, Oregon in March, return home for a little bit, then he has a spring contract outside of Dreary, Idaho that will last about three weeks.

 I had a whirlwind trip to South Carolina in late January where I gave my first keynote presentation on “Marketing the Family Farm” at a regional Agricultural Conference there. They treated me like a queen and I was called “Ma'am” more times than I can ever remember. The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor gave me private tours of numerous farms including one of the largest peach orchards in the US (4,000 acres). They grow peaches, peanuts and pecans there. One of the city council members of Ridge Spring, SC was my host where I stayed in a classic southern white mansion built in 1900, complete with big white pillars and blooming camellias in the massive front yard. The local food included grits, black-eyed peas, catfish, hushpuppies and cornbread. I sampled numerous peach and pecan based foods while there as well. By the time I left, I had picked up my Okie accent and was saying, “ya’ll” with the rest of them. The southern hospitality was lovely—they have a row of rocking chairs on both sides of the tarmac in the airport of Columbia. Traveling three airlines, wandering through Denver and Chicago airports, and having a taste of being in the masses made me appreciate all the more where we live.

I was in Victor, Colorado visiting a dear friend for ten days. I lived there in 1980 - 1984, where I escaped the ash from Mt. St. Helens. Amazingly enough, the ash pretty much buried us in northern Idaho, even though the volcano was hundreds of miles away. It made working in the woods pretty unbearable. Looking back, I moved to Victor (population 200) from Avery, Idaho (population 99), and it is humorous to think that it was moving to the “big city” after where I lived in Idaho.  I am forever grateful that the volcano made me escape Idaho to relocate in Colorado so I could meet my new family of friends there. It is always good to go back. My friend Judy owns and lives in a building that was built in 1892 there. We laughed a lot and it felt like a real vacation. Good friends are one of the treasures of life.

As we move through the winter, I will do a bit more traveling for income. In March, I am teaching two organic gardening sessions for the University of Idaho Master Gardeners, a Small Farm marketing session for UI, and will be a lead trainer at a direct marketing/chef connection event in Spokane, and facilitate at a conference at the university as well. In early April, I fly down to Pocatello, Idaho to give a day-long training session on selling produce to restaurants, and then it is time to return to the farming season. Somewhere between my travels, I will be starting seedlings in the attached greenhouse and planning out the growing season. Of course, we always plan for a successful growing season and trust that Mother Nature will provide us with a bountiful harvest.

    ~  Diane


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