[Market-farming] Here's a little more about Bluestem Farms
KTimperley at npsne.org
Thu Nov 29 14:08:37 EST 2007
Since we're new to this list serve, and since I was asked, I thought I would give you a few more details about our operation. We are in Northeast Nebraska....zone 4b. Although we have had several dry years recently, this year was an exception.....too much rain in April and May...almost none in the summer and then 5 inches in October. Our normal rainfall is 25 inches per year, and we were over that slightly. We have VERY sandy soil....several inches deep. We bought the land, 160 acres, from my husband, Kim's, father in 2000. It has been in the family since 1908. In the late 90's, it was rented out and "stripped mined" by corporate farming operations....very little fertility was left....EXCEPT for a one acre plot that had been a bone-yard for rusted chunks of iron and ancient machinery parts, which had not been touched by plow or chemical for at least 30 years. This is where we created six garden plots, 40' by 120'. The plots are divided by hedge rows of flowering shrubs, fruiting shrubs, tall grasses and flowers. These hedge rows run east and west, creating windbreaks from the harsh prairie winds; food, cover and nesting spots for beneficial birds and insects; and an attraction for pollinators. We are trying, with varying degrees of success to bring up the fertility in the rest of the farm to grow melons, squash, pumpkins, and potatoes, as well as grass pastures for our small grass-fed cattle herd.
We have had as many as 60 CSA customers...after a full page spread in our local paper...but the last couple of years, we've had between 30-35 customers. We deliver to their doors for 22 weeks, starting in late May to early June and finishing in Late October or early November...depending on the weather. We run routes on two days...Monday and Thursday. We deliver in white plastic milk crate style container. We got them at a discount store for around $2.50 each. They look clean, wear like iron, stack in threes neatly, have a flat spot for labeling customer name, address, phone, and subscription info, and are easy to spot on a porch. We have two crates per customer, and rotate them when we deliver. The last delivery is done in a paper grocery sack, so there is no remaining crate to pick up later. We deliver free within a twenty mile radius, and charge mileage for up to thirty miles away...that's it. We want our service to be local, not regional.
We grow about 30 different annual vegetables and herbs as well as perennial rhubarb, horseradish, oregano, and chives....no fruits as of yet. We are thinking about honeyberries....looks like a wild blueberry. Has anyone grown them commercially?
For fertility, we use one horse, seven sheep, thirty chickens and thirty cow/calf pairs with varying degrees of success. We also use green manures and Fertrell soil supplements. We are not certified organic, but we grow according to organic regulations. We are thinking about get some limited certification, but aren't sure about the cost and hassle involved.
That's all I can think of right now. If you have any further questions, I'd be happy to answer any and all.
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