Way back in January I had the incredible privilege of visiting a number of farmers and seed company folks in northern Italy, and specifically looking at radicchio and other chicory growing there. I was going to do a workshop for local market farmers here in the Portland area in early April on what I learned there but that didn’t exactly work out due to the current pandemic. I’ve decided to move the workshop to mid-May and online. Check out the flyer here if you’re interested and want to sign up. It’s free thanks to a generous donation from my friend Eric Pond at Greenleaf Farm Management and as most of these crops are best seeded starting in June and July we should still be early enough with the information to make it useful this year!
Beautiful day on the farm yesterday and the leeks and fields were looking fine. That single wheel farm cart in the photo is a workhorse on the farm, super easy to load, unload and move large loads in tight spaces with it (if you pay attention to how it’s balanced).
I’m going to be speaking about customizing tools for efficiency (which is the same thing as ergonomics) at the Small Farm Tech Expo in Santa Rosa, California, in early December. Spread the word, I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned and hearing what other folks are doing while I’m down there.
On that note, I’ll be working in the Bay Area (based out of SF/Marin) for the week leading up to that, hoping to visit a few farms I’ve been admiring from afar, and maybe even a few I don’t know about yet.
I just updated my workshops page with two conferences and a training program that I’ll be speaking at in California, Oregon and Louisiana. Hit the link to the page, or see below for more details.
The crop planning workshop in December and the CSA workshop at the BD conference in November were very fun for me thanks to great participants and organizers. There are a few more dates in the works and I’ll try to post those as soon as I know if they’re actually happening. Please come say hi if you see me out there on the road.
Upcoming workshops and talks:
- EcoFarm, Pacific Grove, CA, Friday, January 25, 2019 – Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 10 Acres or Less – revisiting farm profiles from the book and what makes them work.
- Oregon Small Farms Conference, Corvallis, OR, Saturday, February 23, 2019 – I’ll be facilitating three workshops on compact farms with a number of experienced growers from around the country: Starting a Compact Farm, Cut Flowers on Compact Farms, and How Compact Farms Evolve.
- Cultivating Small Farm Success, Alexandria, LA, Thursday, March 14, 2019 – Planning for a Successful Market Farm
It’s been a busy conference season for me, five in less than two months and two more coming up before the first week of March.
The Oregon Small Farms Conference is this Saturday. It’s one of the best conferences I go to anywhere in the country. I think part of that is that it’s really focused on Oregon and small farms. It’s only one day, but the day is full of quality talks that relate directly to production issues. I’ll be co-presenting in a session on Vegetable Pack Shed Layout and Ergonomics with Nick Andrews, Heidi Noordijk, and Andrea Kramer. My piece will largely be around the three pieces of equipment that I prototyped for their new pack shed, all written up over at joshvolk.com: an adjustable height spray table, a tote washer, and a packing table. The conference is sold out, but if you’re already signed up, come see our talk and we’re planning on having the prototypes there, along with the trailer that’s been converted into a cooler that Nick and Heidi made.
Not sold out yet (as far as I know), is a day long workshop I’m doing for SnoValley Tilth up in Carnation, Washington. The workshop is titled “Efficiency and Ergonomics on the Farm: Setting up tools, systems, and work spaces for speed, safety and happiness” and I think that pretty much covers it. Thanks to a generous donor the price is incredibly low so if you’re in the area it should definitely be worth checking out. I’m going to be mixing it up with both slides and hands on demos.
I’m trying to keep my workshops page up to date with upcoming talks as they get added. I also try to repost new additions here on the blog and on my Facebook page so you can keep track of where to see me by checking any of those spots.
I have a few workshops and talks coming up in the next two weeks so I thought I should update the workshops page. First I’ll be in Albany, OR for the Mother Earth News Fair this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. On Thursday I fly east and I’ll be in Lenox, MA for a bookstore event on Friday evening followed by a workshop at the NOFA Summer Conference in Amherst on Saturday. If you’re in the area please come see me and say hi, alway nice to connect with folks in far away places.
Later in September I’m also going to be part of two weed control talks at Small Farm School which is a collaboration between Clackamas Community College and Oregon State University Small Farms Program. In November I’m planning on heading to Indiana for a talk, details to follow at some point. I’m sure there’ll be more for the winter, but that’s all the updates for now on upcoming talks and workshops.
The photo above is from the amazing Slow Food Nations event that happened in Denver last month. I felt really honored to be invited to help lead a tour of compact farms and to do a book reading as part of the enormous event. Sounds like Slow Food is going to put the event on next year – I was very impressed an highly recommend it if you’re wanting to connect with folks from all over the country, and the world, and be inspired by the work they’re doing to in producing and promoting good, clean and fair food. In my free time I went to a number of workshops on indigenous food systems and food justice, two topics I’m particularly interested in, and really part of the reason I started farming in the first place.
Besides giving talks I’m staying plenty busy trying to farm and designing some tools. I’m hoping to have some tool updates soon, including shipping options for the hand carts (farmhandcarts.com) and some designs for ergonomic furniture for wash/pack areas on small farms.
If you’re down in southern Oregon I’d love to see you next month at my half day farm planning workshop. I’ll be going over my methods for creating an easy to follow seasonal crop plan, how to take that plan and consider years long rotations, and how to figure out what tools and labor are needed to make it all work.
There’s no time like the present to start thinking about how to improve your planning for next season. Collecting data and information this season will pay off in creating plans for the next one.
The workshop is in conjunction with Rogue Farm Corps and will be held at Wild Wines in the beautiful Applegate Valley. The target audience are advanced level apprentices in the Rogue Farm Corps program, but I’m opening it up to everyone and there should be good stuff in there for market farmers at most levels who are looking to improve their plans.
The workshop is Monday, June 5, 9-1pm. Cost per person is $75. More details are on the flyer posted here.
To Register: Contact Megan Fehrman at Rogue Farm Corps by phone: 503-622-0161 or
I’ll be in Philadelphia on March 30 giving a talk at SJU. If you’re in the area please come. If you know folks in the area, please help spread the word.
Despite the big picture framing I’ll be talking about my experiences with small farms and the benefits I’ve seen from working on and visiting small farms all over the world. I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you out there, sharing my stories and hearing yours.