Articles

Farming with a Family

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2015. Growing for Market, Vol. 24, No. 6.rs

When we started our farm in our mid-twenties, we didn't plan to have kids.  We jokingly said the farm was our baby.  And it was.  Like so many others before us, we poured ourselves into building our business, market base, soil fertility, equipment, variety selection, and overall farm system.  We didn't have time for kids.  But as our farm became increasingly established (and as we got older), we reversed course and decided to take the plunge into parenthood.  At the time, we wanted nothing more than to ask other farmers how they'd done it.  We hope this article sheds some light on our experience farming + child. 

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iPhone Farming

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2011. i-Phone farming. Growing for Market. Vol. 20, No 10. .

As farmers, we sometimes feel as though we have fallen into a technological time warp each time we venture into town for the farmers’ market. Touch-screens, smart phones, and IPads can seem like urban toys with limited practical use on the farm. Yet after repeated prodding from several friends and customers, we splurged on an IPhone this past spring. We were surprised by how quickly this tool became valuable to us, proving to be well worth the money.

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Fall-planted annual strawberries.

Appel, M and E. Oakley. 2011. Fall-planted annual strawberries. Growing for Market. Vol. 20, No 7.

The last several years we have planted strawberries on black plastic in the fall for harvest the following spring. This is the standard commercial technique in California and Florida. Recently this method has become popular in several other states. We will discuss how we have used this practice on our farm, a six-acre certified organic vegetable and fruit farm in northeast Oklahoma (zone 6).

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Tips for planting with Planet Jr.

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2011. Tips for planting with Planet Jr. Growing for Market. Vol. 20, No 8.

Getting a uniform, healthy, and quick stand from direct-seeded crops is essential for profitable farming. It takes money and time to prepare beds for planting, so it is important to not to waste space. Unevenly germinated beds are an inefficient use of limited planting area. Untimely or spotty germination affect expected harvests dates and overall yield potential. Seeds that get a poor start can be more susceptible to disease and pest pressure. On our four acres of annual vegetables, we find most of these problems can be avoided with a fairly simple and inexpensive tool: the Planet Jr. walk-behind push seeder.

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Cultivating young farmers: removing obstacles for new producers.

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2010. Cultivating young farmers: removing obstacles for new producers. Acres USA. Vol. 40, No 12.

With the average farmer approaching sixty and the increasing demand for locally-produced food, our country needs a spike in the number of young producers starting small-scale, full-time family farms. There are resources available to young farmers in various parts of the country. Several deal with business planning and marketing, some link new and established growers, and a few help aspiring farmers obtain land. These are all important assets, and yet they still do not entirely address the needs of new farmers.

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How one customer revolutionized our CSA program.

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2008. How one customer revolutionized our CSA program. Growing for Market. Vol. 18, No 10.

Five years ago a regular farmer’s market customer shared with us his inventive spin on our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We were at our Saturday farmers’ market in Tulsa, OK and were in the process of signing people up for our CSA program when he approached us with his proposal.

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Accepting food stamps at market: good for everyone.

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2008. Accepting food stamps at market: Good for everyone. Growing for Market. Vol. 17, No 6.

As farmers, we struggle with ways of making our food accessible to all, particularly low-income customers. One easy way of doing this is accepting food stamps at our farmers’ market stands.

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Growing a CSA from scratch: creating community and improving your farm’s bottom line.

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2006. Growing a CSA from scratch: creating community and improving your farm’s bottom line. Acres. Vol. 36, No 4.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs enable many small-scale growers throughout the country to maintain economic viability, develop strong relationships with their customers, and provide an alternative marketing outlet to corporate food systems. CSA farmers commit to producing food, and community members pledge to buy it, throughout a growing season. Each party shares in the risks and rewards of farming. Members pay an up-front fee to supply the farmer with much-needed capital at the beginning of the season, guaranteeing an outlet for his or her products. In exchange, members get fresh, local produce picked just for them, and an intimate connection to the people growing their food. This article explores the steps necessary to start a CSA program on your farm.

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Building community through global farm visits.

Oakley, E. 2006. Winter travel to farms exposes growers to a wealth of ideas that can be used at home. . Growing for Market. Vol. 15, No 10.

The middle of the summer always seems to bring us to our breaking point. Somewhere between the triple digit heat and the 16-hour workdays, we find ourselves longing for a change of pace, and place. Last July, while sorting through box upon box of heirloom tomatoes, we decided that we needed a vacation! The idea of winding up the season in the fall and hitting the road made the rest of the summer fly by.

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Are supermarkets cheaper than farmers’ markets?

Oakley, E. and M. Appel. 2005. Are supermarkets cheaper than farmers’ markets? Growing for Market. Vol. 12, No 9.

As farmers, we sometimes feel as though we have fallen into a technological time warp each time we venture into town for the farmers’ market. Touch-screens, smart phones, and IPads can seem like urban toys with limited practical use on the farm. Yet after repeated prodding from several friends and customers, we splurged on an IPhone this past spring. We were surprised by how quickly this tool became valuable to us, proving to be well worth the money.

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From interns to farmers: taking the plunge from dream to reality.

Appel, M and E. Oakley. 2005. From interns to farmers: taking the plunge from dream to reality. Small Farmer’s Journal. Vol. 29, No 3.

Most children growing up in suburbia dream of becoming doctors and lawyers, teachers and policemen. Not many kids in America’s cities decide they want to be farmers when they grow up. However, there are an increasing number of young people exploring small-scale sustainable agriculture through farm internships and apprenticeships. More and more of them are discovering their passion for farming along the way, and taking the plunge towards owning and operating their own farms. That is exactly what happened to us. This article is about the steps we took to start our small farm, how we applied what we already knew, and what we learned through the process.

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