Effective Rainfall

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Effective Rainfall

Sometimes we have too much and at other times not enough water.  What can we do with the rainwater that we receive, to make it more effective?

 

David Proctor

 

 
 
 

           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Effective Rainfall

 

by David Proctor


June 22, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly 


The importance of water in our life is huge.  Sometimes it is hard to think about what we would do without clean water, mainly because all we have to do is turn on the tap and water will keep coming out till we turn it off.

I have been thinking about water lately as I hear about how clean water has been taken for granted.  Ask the people in Flint Michigan how they feel about clean water.

Ask the landowners that have wells that have been polluted from mining underground resources, how they feel about clean water.

Growing up in Missouri, with all the lakes, rivers and streams, it is hard to imagine what farmers and ranchers went through and how the western part of the country has dealt with riparian rights for years and water management.   There has been many a battle fought over water and who has control of it.

This last weekend I was able to enjoy the fun of cooling off and playing in water at Virginia Beach.  As you can see the waves got the better of me more than once.

VA BCH Waves
VA Beach Waves

Beyond just having fun with water, what can we do to help stem droughts and lack of water?  Often, we think of water shortage as lack of rainfall so there is nothing we can do about it.  But what if we changed that thought to the inability to keep water on the land instead of it becoming runoff.  Now we have an issue that we can attempt to control.

One way to control runoff is by slowing the pace of water as it flows downhill. Water can also be trapped by building more ponds in elevated areas.  This way water can be used in agriculture for distribution without having expensive pumps.

Water can be trapped from rooftops by rain barrels and cisterns.  When I was small and on my grandparent’s farm, they did not have city water under pressure to them, they had two cisterns, one that collected water from the house and the other collected water from the barn.

Just off the kitchen of the farm house, on the porch or mudroom was a hand crank water pump that was used to retrieve water from the well below.

In rural and urban areas, rain barrels can be used to trap water for distribution to lawns and gardens.  This is very seldom used even though it is very effective for retaining water.

A drip hose attached to a rain barrel can supply water for the times when rain is not as prevalent.

When the water is kept on the land, the water filtered to the underground water sources such as aquifers.  One of the big problems that happens when these underground aquifers are over-utilized, the ground can collapse and have sink holes, plus an increase in water salinity if by the coast.

One of the best ways to keep water in the soil is with carbon.  Carbon is a very effective sponge that can absorb water.  For every gram of soil organic carbon, this represents 8 grams of water that can be held on the land, according to Author Judith Schwartz, Water in Plain Sight.  If we can build up the carbon in our soil we can help with the process of effective rain.

One of the best ways to build up carbon in the soil is through livestock.  Under controlled grazing and by mimicking how nature did with large herds and predators, the land that is turning into deserts can be reversed, per Allan Savory, a biologist from Africa.

This is one of the techniques that Joel Salatin has been doing at Polyface farm, and he has had remarkable results in land reclamation.

In the urban areas, we can help by mulching our gardens so the moisture is retained for the plants.  The mulching will also act as a weed control so your plants do not have to compete for water and sunlight.

In areas that are wetlands, it is very important to keep the land that way.  Wetlands help filter water and keep it from just running into the waste water system in urban and city areas.

When you look at your land and it has just rained, does the ground appear to be drying out rapidly or do your plants hold in the moisture?

According to Allan Savory, all droughts are manmade.  That is, we do not use our rainwater effectively.

Think about some of these points as we head into the heat of the summer and you see the ground cracks forming.  The most valuable resource we have is clean water.

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach

Check It Out!

 

 

 


Quick Tip

 

  • If you are concerned about the water you drink, use a good water filter
  • Use drip irrigation 
  • New toilets provide better water savings
  • Don’t water lawn while it is raining
  • Fix the faucet leaks that you may have

 

Bibliography:

Schwartz, Judith D. Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016. Print.

 


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Farm of The Future

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Farm of The Future

The farm of the future may not look like what we are used to seeing today. But it would look very familiar to our grandparents.  The Polyface Farm.

 

 

David Proctor

 

 
 
 

           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Farm of The Future

by David Proctor


June 15, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

 


From a very early age I always wanted to farm. The problem was, if you have the money that it takes to farm, why would you farm.

I use to read Successful Farmer when I was young and staying on the farm.  The magazine would feature all the large and back then high-tech equipment that the farmer could purchase to become successful.  The magazine would show silos, confined feedlots, and confined hog operations.

Almost every farmer was and is up to his eyeballs in debt, just trying to make a living and never seems to be able to get ahead.  With all the expenses that if takes to buy equipment, buy seed, plant and fertilize the crops, veterinary bills, medications for livestock, there is just no getting ahead.

The only solution is to specialize and produce more. More cattle, more chickens, more hogs, more land for more row crops, more everything.  But who really gets ahead? Is it the business that sells the equipment, that sells the seed, that sells the fertilizer, the Sell Barn that buys the cattle, hogs etc.  The farmer is the only entrepreneur that “buys at retail and sells at wholesale.”

I wanted to see a farm that is truly successful, that is not up to their eyeballs in debt, produces a diversity in food, and is producing healthy food. I saw that farm a year ago, The Polyface Farm that is run by the Salatin family in Swoop Virginia. 
I hope to go back this year and take the “Intensive Discovery, which is a two-day intensive seminar that cover topics ranging from processing chickens and rabbits to moving cattle, electric fencing, pasturing pigs and sawmilling.”

EntranceDriveway To Polyface Farm

I was amazed when I got out of the car, the farm had animals, I could hear them, I could see them but I didn’t smell them.  What was going on here, how can this be?

HogsHogs
PigsHappy Pigs

 I can remember when I took a motorcycle trip from Missouri to Minnesota.  I rode through Iowa, I couldn’t believe the smell, it was terrible. And here, this farm had hogs and I couldn’t smell them.  What was being done different?  Everything, is the answer to that question.

As an urban farmer, I wanted to see what ideas I could bring back.  I can’t have cattle, hogs, or sheep, but I can have up to four chickens. So, I decided to see how they raised their chickens. 

They do not keep their chickens in little cages or cubicles, they are able to move around, and have plenty of fresh air and grass to eat.  Some are kept in what is called a chicken tractor. 

Grass Fed Chickens
Movable Chicken Pens For Broilers
Chicken Tractor
Chicken Tractors – Laying Chickens

The chickens run around and eat bugs and grass, then are loaded back up in their movable home to the next location. Others are kept in a movable pen that is moved by pulling a wire rope and the whole pen is moved along with the chickens to fresh grass.  The difference in the accommodations is for laying hens and broilers.

Where I live, a chicken tractor would not be applicable, but the movable cages might be something to try. The chickens would be protected from predators and have coverage, then in the evening could be brought into a chicken house.

Yard CageSmall Movable Chicken Pen

I also saw where they have rabbits and the chickens run around under the rabbit cages. Some of the rabbits were out in a grassy area that allowed them to eat the green grass and still be protected. The difference here is what the rabbits are being used for, for meat or producing young.

Pastured RabbitsRabbits Grazing

Each of the locations that had animals was set up for a specific reason. Some locations were set up to accommodate the different age groups of the animals, whether it be little chicks, or chickens laying eggs or chickens to eat.

While others were playing their role to help in the symbiotic relationship with the other animals. These different but important roles of the animals are what makes this farm unique compared to conventional farming.

Rabbits & ChickensRabbit Cages With Chickens Underneath
Sheep & DogA Sheep With A Watch Dog

The farm of the future is the old McDonald farm with a few different twists. I know you’re thinking that can’t be. There is no scale to that type of farm, no specialization, no way you could make a living. I saw differently today. 

This family is not only making a very good living but a healthy living, without chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and all the other “cides” that go along with conventional farming.  I hope to learn and practice these techniques on a small scale and hopefully try them on a little larger, but maintainable scale.

Farm OperationsFarming Operations
Polyface FarmPolyface Farm
The Polyface Farm, if you would like to read more about their methods go to http://www.polyfacefarms.com/ where you will find books and seminars about what they are doing.  Joe Salatin has written several books and is a well know speaker on the subject of eco-agriculture.

Check It Out!

I have really enjoyed this book, you may too.

YOU CAN FARM | THE ENTREPRENEUR’S GUIDE
TO START AND SUCCEED IN A FARMING ENTERPRISE
by Joel Salatin

 


Polyfaces English from RegrariansMedia on Vimeo.


Quick Tip

 

Once you stop using herbicides and pesticides, you are organic.

We are not here to conquer nature but to work with nature.


Bibliography:

http://www.polyfacefarms.com/


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Vermiculture

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Vermiculture

Vermiculture is the raising of worms for use in composting, for bait, and the use of their castings for fertilizer.  The castings can be used to make worm tea, or just added directly to your plants as an organic fertilizer.

 

 

David Proctor

 

 
 
 

           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


 

Vermiculture

 

                                    by David Proctor

June 8, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


The most common worm that is purchased from a worm farm or supplier is the red wigglers or Lumbricus rubella.  These little guys are great for fishing and do wonders for the soil.

These worms live just under the surface, ingesting soil along with organic matter and leaving tunnels that carry oxygen to the plant roots and improve drainage. This activity breaks up heavy dirt clods, and the castings keep the soil loose.

The key to having worms is to have a place that keeps them happy and comfortable and to feed them.

Worms In Worm Bin
Worms In Worm Bin

You can build a worm bin or purchase one.  I started with having a compost pile outside.  This is where I put the grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen scraps to be made into fertilizer.

You can use any wood or plastic container for housing your worms.  The key is to have one that breathes well.  Wood boxes tend to allow a constant supply of air, but plastic will work fine as long as holes are drilled for drainage and you stir in air every few days.

You can use a storage bin and lid, but I would recommend that you not use the lid but instead place burlap on the top.  This will diffuse the light, help keep moisture in, and allow a good supply of air.

Burlap Canvas Cover
Burlap Canvas Cover

If your worm bin is outdoors, keep it in a protected area, out of the hot summer sun or cold rains in the winter.

Worm Farm
Worm Farm

I turn the compost pile and worm bin every week so the decomposing of new additions to the pile or bin is enhanced.  There has never been a smell from the compost pile.  When I turn the compost, I see all sorts of worms

This is the same compost pile I used to repot my jalapeno plants.  The compost is a rich black soil, not like any other soil in my yard.

Compost
Compost

I have an indoor worm bin that I keep in the basement.  I put coffee grounds and vegetables in that bin.  It is just about time to remove castings from this bin.

Uncle Jim's Worm Farm
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

I use the bedding that came with the worm farm.  If you want to make your own bedding, newspaper and corrugated cardboard that is shredded into ¼” to 1” strips, works well.  Place the strips in water then drain well.  You want them to be moist but not soggy.

Vermicompost
Vermicompost

As the bedding disappears, replace it with new.  This is the process the worms go through in composting or vermicomposting.

Add a few handfuls of moist soil to the bedding.  This will help provide worms with the grit that they need for digesting their food.

Worms
Worms

Now that you have your worms taking care of your organic waste material you can start reaping the rewards of the worm castings.  After about 6-12 months you will have enough castings to harvest in one of the following methods.

  1. Feed the worms in one end of the bin for several weeks, attracting all of the population to one area; then scoop out the castings from the other end.
  2. Stop adding scraps until all are eaten and only bedding remains.  Remove paper bedding and empty the bin onto a plastic covered table outdoors or under a bright light.  Make a long, low mound and slowly brush the castings off the top of the mound.  The worms will quickly bury themselves at the bottom.  Continue removing castings until the worms are left with a thin covering, then put them back into their bin with fresh bedding.

You can place a handful of casting in potting soil for your houseplants or around your vegetables and ornamental plants.  There will be worm eggs and a few young worms in the castings, but they will survive and enrich the soil.

If your population of worms has exploded, you can begin another bin with half the worms or put some out into your garden.

Remember the other part to having worms, is you always have bait when you want to go fishing.  Few things work better than live wiggly worms to catch fish with.

Fish Just Waiting To Be Caught
Fish Just Waiting To Be Caught

Having a worm farm is a win-win.  They don’t bark, they stay to themselves, your kitchen scraps and grass clipping do not go to the dump, and you will not have an excuse to not go fishing.

 


Check It Out!

 

How to make Worm Tea    4:53


Quick Tip

 

  • Your worm box must be well-ventilated.  Aerobic bacteria will slowly decompose the organic material, making it more palatable to the worms.  If the environment becomes anaerobic (without air) the bin will develop a foul odor and the worms will eventually die.
  • Drain the bedding well before putting it in your worm box.  It must be able to absorb moisture from the food scraps you add.  The bedding is perfectly moist if it clumps together when you squeeze it in your hand and not water drips out. Usually, it is unnecessary to add water to keep the bedding moist, but if it dries out, add a small amount of water at a time.
  • Until the worms adjust to their new environment, it is a good idea to expose them to light overnight.  After a week, they will be well-fed and acclimated to their new surroundings.

Bibliography:

McCreary, Rosemary. “Worm Bin Care.” Worm Bin Care (n.d.): n. pag. Sonoma County Waste Management Agency. E University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Home Composting Education Program. Web.

 


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Posted in fish, Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with: , , ,

USDA Dollars for Urban Farms

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

 

 

USDA Dollars for Urban Farms

For those who would like to take the Urban Farm Lifestyle to the next level but lack the money to do so, one possible route may be through the US Government loan programs.

 

 

David Proctor

 

 
 
 

           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


USDA Dollars for Urban Farms

 

                                    by David Proctor

June 1, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


The USDA or United States Department of Agriculture is trying to help many urban farmers through assistance programs.

In 2016 the USDA funded a dozen urban farm initiatives which was the highest amount in its history.  In 2017, it is expected the USDA will increase even more funding for rooftop farms, greenhouses, and warehouses.

The USDA Microloans, is a program the can offer up to $50,000 for urban farmers.  Even though this is open to all farmers, generally urban farmers have been applying for the funds due to smaller scale and requirements geared for this type farmer.

This program allows grantees to use funds for more non-traditional type purchases such as LEDs for growing with hydroponics. It still has its roots in traditional agriculture though. One of the first questions the applicant will face is how big is your field?  Which is hard to answer if you don’t have one.

One of the first participants in the microloan program was Square Roots out of New York.  The money was used to cover cost of seed and operating expenses before the first harvest.

Still the majority of loans still go to rural farms even though the programs directors are making efforts to try and get the money in hands of urban farmers.

This initiative does show an effort to try and help support local food systems and not just rural agriculture.  This program is good news for those that would like to go beyond growing a few tomatoes to a higher volume commercial endeavor.

In 2016, the USDA published an “Urban Agriculture Toolkit,” which contains guidelines and advice for starting a green house or rooftop farm, plus how to apply for loans.

Summary of Key Resources In Toolkit

  1. Business Planning
  2. Land Access
  3. Soil Quality
  4. Water Access / Use
  5. Capital and Financing
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Market Development

Starting an Urban Farm:

What Are the Costs?
Start-up expenses for an urban farm will vary widely by location because many of the components (such as land or utilities) are site-specific. Start-up expenses can be broken down into a few categories:

Location
This includes acquiring the land, making sure it is zoned properly and that the necessary permits are in place, and getting an environmental assessment done. In many cases, land access and soil tests can be subsidized.

Site Preparation
Once the land is purchased or rented and all the necessary permits and tests are clear for it to operate as an urban farm, the farmer will need to prepare the land for growing. The largest associated cost (and likely largest cost of the entire operation) will be soil, but soil prices will vary by location and volume. Other costs include fencing, signage, and getting adequate water to the site.

Structures
This includes both infrastructure necessary for growing (such as high tunnels) and storing (such as a cooler). What types of structures will be needed will be dependent on location, types of crops grown, and desired length of growing season.

Growing and Selling
These are the expenses that you will expect to incur in your first year of operation (as opposed to true start-up costs, which may involve additional expenses). They include traditional farming costs such as tools, growing supplies and utilities, as well as business costs like advertising and website design.

Administrative Expenses and Operating Costs
These will be ongoing costs associated with your operation, but they are critical to take into account in year one, when you will be getting systems in place.

Costs for Indoor Growing Facilities
The costs associated with indoor growing facilities, including aquaculture and hydroponic facilities, will be very different from starting an outdoor farming operation in the city. They will also vary widely depending on the type of facility you look to build. A large-scale aquaponic facility located in a warehouse-type building may be a multi-million-dollar investment; a small aquaponics system housed in a greenhouse could be built for a few thousand dollars, or even less if you are able to use salvaged materials.

As you can see, a lot of factors have to be weighed before you start, or at least what the quide says you should do.  In my opinion the best thing to do is start small and work on these items as you see that they become necessary.  The best advice I can give is get outside and grow.  Has this article about made you decide it is just not worth it to even try?

Watch the video below on how to keep it simple! You will fill better.

 


Check It Out!

Future Article

 

Grow Food, Make Money! YOU can do it!    1:17


Quick Tip

 

  1. Obtain a DUNS number:   http://fedgov.dnb.com/ webform
  2. Register on SAM.gov
  3. Register with FAS
What Are DUNS and SAM?

DUNS is Dun & Bradstreet’s (D&B) “Data Universal Numbering System”. It is a copyrighted, proprietary means of identifying business entities on a location-specific basis. A DUNS number is a unique nine-character identification number Dun & Bradstreet provides free of charge.The System for Award Management (SAM) is the Official U.S. Government registration system. Business entities that have obtained a DUNS number must register annually on SAM to be eligible to receive financial assistance. There is NO charge to register or maintain your entity registration record in SAM.

FSA: Farm Service Agency registration is required in order to qualify for many USDA grant and loan programs


Bibliography:

Garfield, Leanna. “The US Government Is Loaning Millions of Dollars to Jumpstart Urban Farming.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 27 Dec. 2016. Web. 29 May 2017.


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Posted in Animal Husbandry, Apiary, Chickens, fish, Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with: , , , ,

Tomatoes

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a standby, go-to plant to have in a garden.  I will share insights from pros like Joe Lamp’l of Growing A Greener World and others as tips for growing and preparing tomatoes.

David Proctor

 

 
 
 

           From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 

 


Tomatoes

 

                                    by David Proctor

May 25, 2017

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

 


In almost any garden that you pass by, you will find tomato plants.  It seems as though they have always been one of the first things you want to get in the garden.

When I was young we had tomato plants in our family garden.  We would place tomato stakes by them and tie them up with old leg hosiery that had been discarded due to runs.  This was a strong fabric that would hold the plants and also flex as the plants grew.

Joe Lamp’l has come up with a much stronger solution that will hold up even the most challenging plants which he calls the “Ultimate Tomato Support”.

Joe Lamp'l
Joe Lamp’l

You can get the needed supplies at your local farm supply store. To read more please click this Link

The next is a recipe by Nathan Lyon, a Chef featured on Growing A Greener World.  This recipe is called Rosemary Garlic Tomato Confit.

Nathon Lyon
Chef Nathan Lyon
Ingredients:1 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed, skins discarded
1 sprig of rosemary, 3-inches, bruised
2 bay leaves
2 pints cherry or teardrop tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
½ pound dried pasta

To follow the recipe please click Link

To find out about different tomato plants, an organization called Seed Savers can help with finding the heirloom tomatoes you may be looking for.  This is one of the organizations that works towards saving and swapping seeds with fellow gardeners.

Seed Saver Tent At Monticello
Seed Swap Tent At Monticello

These seeds have been passed down from one generation to the next.  Some of the vegetables and fruits may not look like what you would find in the store but they offer a unique taste.  The tomato seeds they have are a good start to growing a unique and flavorful tomato that you can’t buy.

It is a little late to start your tomato plants from seeds.  It would be best to purchase your tomato plants and get them in the ground.  Water your plants generously the first few days and continue with consistency throughout the growing season.

It helps to mulch around the plants to help retain the moisture and keep the weeds from growing around them.

Try to leave the tomatoes on the vine as long as you can.  If you pick early and place on a windowsill, they can rot before they ripen.  Try not to refrigerate fresh tomatoes.  Doing so can change the flavor and texture.

If you want to freeze fresh tomatoes, core and place them in whole, in freezer bags.  The skins will slip off when they defrost.

So, get out and get the plants in the ground.  Just think about that BLT that is just around the corner.


Check It Out!

 


Quick Tip

 

Podcast


Bibliography:

Says, Joe Lamp’l. “The Ultimate Tomato Cage in 5 Simple Steps.” Growing A Greener World®. N.p., 14 May 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.

Lyon, Nathan. “Rosemary Garlic Tomato Confit.” Growing A Greener World®. N.p., 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 May 2017.

Almanac, Old Farmer’s. “Old Farmer’s Almanac.” Old Farmer’s Almanac. Yankee Publishing Inc, n.d. Web. 23 May 2017.


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Posted in Magazine Issues, Plants, Recipes Tagged with: , ,

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