Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Leadership and Business Books

At its heart farming is a business. So I think it is appropriate that farmers be current on the best leadership and business books. As I scan back over the books I have read recently, the following titles come to mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Guarantee You Won't Sell This

I absolutely guarantee you won't sell something at the Farmers Market if you don't bring it to market.

Time and time again, the children have said, "Let's leave that home, no one will want that" or "Let's not pick that, no one will buy that".  The following weird examples:

I Can Sell Anything to Anyone

Reed our high school freshman has a "firmly held belief" that he can sell anything to anyone. While not strictly true, this is a very confidence building attitude to have.

It is not unusual for him to say, "Dad we have 30 bunches of Radishes left" or "20 dozen ears of sweet corn left". "Give me an hour and I will sell them all." and he does.

So how is that possible?

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Love to Listen

Only slightly less important than the love of good books is the way technology has enabled the ability to listen to some of the greatest thinkers and speakers of our time. Almost every book is now available on many kinds of media.

I am constantly listening to speakers and books, I typically wear out the tape player in a vehicle every 20,000 miles or so. My vehicles are pickups. I spend many hours loading and unloading compost by hand. Remember my first post on compost? Well most of those 3,000,000 pounds of compost were shoveled on and off of one of my pickups by that would make 6 million pounds handled by hand. This is good exercise for the body and if you are listening to some worthy literature or speaker, can be good exercise for the mind and soul.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Salsa is a year round staple at our table. This a pretty unusual for a family that is nearly 100% Danish. We love fresh salsa with cilantro and all the fixings from August to October. We sell a fresh salsa kit at the farmers market where we include tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro and garlic for about half the cost it would take to buy each component separately.

This post is about the rest of the year and the canned salsa we made.  I had experimented with a number of recipes and fancy seasonings the previous year. They were OK but I thought we could do better.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Black Garlic

One of the weird things I have made is Black Garlic

I found Black Garlic on the internet and started asking some of the local chefs about it. They had been using it in a few cases. Mostly as a condiment, since it was very expensive.

Black Garlic is made by ...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Learning Your Farm

Each farm has a specific soil, climate, location and markets. There are no short cuts to learning the unique characteristics of your farm.

Our farm has 5-6 different soil types, topographies and micro-climates in 30 acres. Learning how to maximize opportunities across these widely ranging growing conditions can be a life long challenge.

For example,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stages of Learning to Farm

The stages of learning to farm are a little like putting together a personal budget. For a budget you would be working on it monthly and for a farm the time frame is seasonal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Learning to Farm

It takes years of experience to understand what works and what doesn't work in farming. This is because of the variations in seasons, weather, markets, locations, soils, climate, varieties and farmers.

Reading will shorten the assimilation of information somewhat as you can learn, from the knowledge and mistakes of others. See my post on some of the top farming books for my learning and operation. Your list maybe somewhat different. I offer my list as a point of demarcation as I am always looking for good books and I hope you are too.

The learning curve is more than just information. Information is the foundation, but there are other factors that greatly influence success. For example, management, relationships, tools, timing, and execution.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Top Farming Books

I thought it would be helpful to my readers to list of some of the books that have most influenced my farming practices. Some of these are classics and I have read them many times.

"How to Grow More Vegetables", by John Jeavons. This is the 'Wikipedia' of sustainable gardening using the Biointensive Method. I have met John and have taken several of his weekend seminars. I'm not a purist when practicing his method, meaning I have modified the approach to suit a larger scale, but his growing approach has greatly influenced my thinking.