Thursday, September 30, 2010

A2R visited by a delegation from India accompanied by representatives from the Asia Foundation

Last week we received a visit from a delegation of officials from India. The visit was sponsored by the Asia Foundation, a non-profit organization.

The purpose of the visit was to give the delegates an idea of the challenges facing American farmers transitioning to organic farming practices. We took them on a tour of our cleaning warehouse and a few of our fields. They had many questions about what we've done differently, what costs are associated with transitioning, and what if any government funding is available. The visit went very well and we hope the delegates got a good idea of exactly what kind of problems farmers face transitioning away from conventional farming. Thank you to Harry MacCormack and Cheri Clark for setting up the tour. Here is a list of the representatives names and positions.

Ms. Sayeeda Bano, Member, Zila Parishad, Madhubani, Bihar (State)
Dr. Harendra Prasad, Joint Director - Department of Planning and Development
Government of Bihar (State)
Mr. Avanindra Kumar, Programme Manager - Development Alternatives, New Delhi
Dr. Alok Pandey, Manager (Programme)Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA)
New Delhi
Mr. Amit Sengupta, Executive Editor - Hardnews Magazine, Delhi (South Asian Partner of Le Monde Diplomatique)
Oliver Petzold, Program Officer - Asian American Exchange, The Asia Foundation
Tamara Failor, Junior Associate - Governance, Law & Civil Society, The Asia Foundation

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Harvesting sunflowers

Last week we harvested all of the ripe sunflowers. They were ripening at vastly different rates so we had to walk through and select the fully ripe flowers, then cut the heads off. A BIG thank you to all of the volunteers that came and helped us cut, carry, and spread the flowers! We will have to go back through in a week or so and cut the rest of the ripening flowers. Slightly less than half of the field was not thinned sufficiently, which basically meant that they didn't fully ripen in time and will be plowed under.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Announcing the first annual Willamette Valley Fill-Your-Pantry Market October 23rd @ A2R Farms

I'm pleased to announce the First Annual Willamette Valley Fill-Your-Pantry Market, which will take place Saturday October 23rd from 2-5pm at A2R Farms. Here is the text of the save-the-date notice that went out this week.

What: 1st Annual Willamette Valley Fill-Your-Pantry Market
When: Saturday, October 23, 2010 2-5 p.m.
Where: A2R Farms, 7205 Cutler Lane (2 miles west of Corvallis Municipal Airport off Airport Rd.)
This is your opportunity to purchase staples (grains, flour, beans, seeds and winter storage produce) directly from local farmers. Stock your pantry for the winter at discount prices. A list of foods available, growing method (conventional, natural, certified organic or transitional) and price per pound to follow shortly. Orders for over 100 pounds of a single item (e.g. oats) must be reserved by October 19th. Smaller orders can/should be reserved, as well, or may be purchased at event. All orders must be picked up at the event. Payment by cash or check only, made out to the farmer.
Stay tuned for order list~
Sponsored by the Southern Willamette Bean & Grain Project and Ten Rivers Food Web

This is a collaboration between the SWVBGP and several area farmers. The goal is to create awareness of the availability of local storable foods through a fun, market-like atmosphere. Local beer and wine will be available...for free! We are emphasizing bulk sales to encourage families to save bulk product over the winter, both to increase food security and support the local food system. The prices will be lower than supermarket prices in most cases.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cleaning flax

We have just finished cleaning the flax in the warehouse. This is our second season cleaning flax, and we are getting much better at it. Last year we cleaned about 6000 pounds for a small farm near Junction City. Since our system is designed for large amounts of seed, it was difficult to get the flax as clean as we would have liked. This year we were much better prepared, but we still had issues such as screen placement, machine speeds, air flow speed, etc. We had to tweak and re-tweak the setting many times to finally get it right. We had a lot of help from the Cimbria rep. (Cimbria is the manufacturer of our main cleaner). We were able to minimize our seed loss to the point that we only had about 2-3,000 pounds of screenings out of 16-18,000 pounds of seed. Which isn't bad considering the screenings from flax are worth several hundred dollars a ton to poultry farmers. Flax screenings make valuable feed additions to chickens for the omega-3 content. Although we got the flax very close to retail-ready, it will still have to be re-cleaned on a gravity table as there is a small amount of weed seed remaining. Kudos to Bill our warehouse manager for being so persistent in going after high quality. Nice work Bill!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harvesting garbanzo beans

Today we started harvesting the garbanzo beans. This entailed walking along with shears and cutting them at the roots, then coming along behind with a wheelbarrow and picking them up. Sounds simple, right? Sure, but one 3-acre field took 9 hours, and we're still not done, and it was raining! We can't use a combine because there aren't enough to justify using it, too many beans would get lost in the machine during threshing. Also, the beans aren't tall enough. The average height is about 10-12 inches. We would probably crush as many as we cut. So, 4 of us trundled out there and stooped, crawled, kneeled, and hacked our way across the field. We are laying the bushes out to dry on a large tarp in the hay shed. We haven't decided how we are going to separate bean from pod yet. We should finish that piece and the other 2 very small pieces tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grain harvest is done!

We have finished with the grain harvest and have moved on to preparing the ground for next season. I don't have accurate yield figures yet, and I won't until we clean and process all the crop. The white wheat yielded higher than expected. The red wheat was about what we expected to get. The flax was lower than expected. The oats yielded slightly higher than expected, with the exception of the hull-less oats which was slightly lower than we hoped. We didn't have expectations of a huge yield from the hull-less oats as the variety was from Manitoba and needs to be acclimatized. We feel that this year we will have better yields as we will plant all the wheat in the fall. Hopefully we will get better red wheat yields if it is fall planted.