The first winter that Adam Valdivia and his three partners spent at Sleeping Frog Farms in southern Arizona was colder than they expected. The weather station was on a ridge, and so the temperatures they were using to guide their farming were about 10 degrees warmer than the air surrounding their plants.
“We had a really big hit,” Valdivia recalled. “We had jumped into an unknown and it came back to bite us in the butt.” Their root crops didn’t die, but were too soft to sell. The fava beans were devastated.
Since then, the four, which include Valdivia and his wife, Debbie Weingarten, C.J. Marks, and Clay Smith, have learned to adjust.
Amy Love is an educated and well-seasoned fifth-generation farmer, as well as a mother of two. She and her husband run Love Farm Organics, a CSA operation located in the Willamette Valley just outside of Portland, Oregon. This land has been farmed by the Love family for over 100 years. Love is passionate about genetic diversity, the well-being of the land and delivering quality food to her community on a modest scale.
I recently spoke with Amy about how her interest in farming developed, the sustainable methods she employs, and the future goals for Love Farm Organics.
When Maya Dailey started farming nine years ago, she had little more than big dreams and credit cards on which she purchased seeds. Today, Dailey runs a thriving five-acre farm on the edge of Phoenix, Ariz., and is a well-known figure in the local foodie scene.
She started by growing herbs and selling them to establishments in Santa Fe, N.M., where Dailey worked in the restaurant industry. After moving to Arizona, Dailey added flowers and eggs to the mix.
In 2006, Dailey started a full-time farm at her present location, leasing land tucked in the back corner of The Farm at South Mountain, a peaceful desert oasis featuring trees, grass, picnic tables, three restaurants, a home décor shop and a massage studio.
If you are a CSA member, you’ve been there. You get a box full of gorgeous produce accompanied by some kind of vegetable that you have no idea what to do with it. It stays in the back of your refrigerator until mold starts to form and you guiltily throw it into the compost.
Local Thyme was founded with the idea of ending that veggie guilt. Eighteen months ago, Pat Mulvey and Laura Gilliam launched a service to provide Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups with tried-and-true recipes for all the vegetables, fruits, and sustainably-farmed meats, fish and eggs that show up in farm boxes delivered around Madison, Wisconsin.
Mulvey has 20 years as a private chef under her belt, and Gilliam is a master preserver and an organic community gardener who knows what to grow to complement all those exotic vegetables.
The 40-something husband and wife duo are pouring their most productive years into this land, so it will sustain them, along with dozens of other families. Bartsch also speaks of shifting cultural attitudes toward eating, changing expectations that food be cheap and processed.
“When you’re dealing with the food system, you’re trying to change a culture,” said Bartsch.