Colorful Carrots

It is almost Indiana sweet corn and cantaloupe time! Watermelon from under an hour’s drive are on target for before the 4th of July, too! The organic garden is doing great, and my daughters beans have come up nicely. Local food will be here in my refrigerator pretty soon.

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My Organic Garden

Well, I must say that the whole blog idea is great…for those with the time. I’ve not forgotten to blog; in fact, I have tens of drafts that span March and April. But…. They became obsolete before they were published. I stopped trying for the next couple of months, watching and doing….

I guess I will start at what I remember prior to be the break from blogging. First, I went hog-wild laying out plans and deadlines. I hate deadlines, by the way. Well, I was poised to purchase the “perfect” home for Illiana Ag Alliance and my family. Instead of securing the deal, I started anew with recruiting/reassuring local farmers and buyers. I ranted about how I was going to approach the School Board, the City of Martinsville (and Martinsville on the Move), etc. I spoke of the Clark County Farmers Market probable shutdown…. While on the tirade, well, life happened.

I missed out on the house and pole barn–someone else followed through more quickly than I. I then received a phone call (hours after learning of the missed opportunity) from an interested local intern focused on Organic foods, and I shut the conversation off immediately. I regret that decision, yet I had no clue what to tell her. I may well have alienated a boon to the Food Hub. Almost immediately following the phone call, I read a message from someone that states that she not only reads this blog of mine, but that she is excited about “what I am accomplishing.” I’m not sure if I thanked you for that, Janet, but I thank you now. At the time, it hurt. My “accomplishments” were swirling away. That’s the inherent problem with deadlines and timelines…they evolve, and not always in the way one desires!

I hit the brakes…hard, and without warning to most people. Part of the reasoning behind the fall from online interests lays in the fact that I had to make some hard decisions. I had to decide which parts of my life demanded immediate and full attention and which ones could wait. Work…my career…took its place above the struggles of the Food Hub. This was a bit of a no-brainer, in hindsight. At the time, I felt like a sell-out. I love what I do, and an unbelievable number of my personal values are encompassed within my job description.

Part of the reasoning that led to a full stop was tied to my family’s needs. These correlate directly to my great career and the time I needed to make for my wife and children. I believe that I briefly mentioned both before now…Process Control Engineer at Rowe Foundry, Inc., in my hometown of Martinsville, IL…newborn preemie son and six-year old suffering from jealousy/perceived long-term fatherly neglect….

A huge part of the reasoning behind the stop was that the Farmers Market held a meeting…and there was discussion about NOT closing! The desire to not interfere with direct-to-consumer marketing and my ideas of local wholesale did not mesh well in my mind. I wanted to see how things panned out…and there is a Farmers Market this year. I’ve not made it to one yet, but I will!

There are other reasons…no soil close to home for so much as a garden, unless I chose to use chemicals to take care of weeds. I chose not to. To list more reasons/excuses would be…whining?

Skip to today:  I have relocated six miles away into a rented home. It is located approximately two blocks from where I had my first roadside stand in my early teens–where I attribute the beginning of my local food passion’s growth. I am also less than half of a block from work–convenient and a fuel saver. My back yard holds a thriving 1,200(ish) square foot Organic garden! Beyond the need to replace a couple of heirloom tomato plants and the current head-scratching over how to keep my eggplant leaves from being eaten in an organic manner, it is looking immensely successful!

Sales? Well, I guess I never mentioned that one of the Owner/Managers at Rowe Foundry is also the President of Martinsville’s School Board, huh? I’ve yet to approach him, that will come in due time. First, I need to establish a processing method for most of the crops I’m growing. I’ll do the colorful carrot thing as a second-cropping, but promising without delivery is something I’ll refrain from now. I’ve done a bit of that, and it does not give me the warm fuzzies. (Current idea: Work with the Farmers Market and the local Food Pantry–they have an established connection–and follow the previously outlined idea of a % to be destined to processed school sales and a % for donations).

Melons will still be sold. Whether I continue down the path I’ve prepared with the purchase of a 3/4 ton beast of a truck and a fifth-wheel hitch, leasing a trailer locally, and placing someone else in the position to deliver melons to grocers and restaurateurs is undecided. What will be done is a permanent roadside stand in my shaded front yard. I’ll have plenty to sell (hopefully), my wife is a stay-at-home mom that loves the melon run/direct sales thing, and if local ordinances are persuaded to follow the best possible guidelines (following recent legislation at the State-level), there will be some consignments to complement our offerings. The stand will likely be closed during the Farmers Market time, I think. Maybe not a Food Hub, per se…but local foods (including Organics) will be available locally.

I am connecting and have reconnected with new and old friends here; including farmers, some members of the Fair Board, and some current and former City Officials. “A bug in the ear” is the newest approach I’m trying in an effort to increase local awareness and support. I still hold dreams of a Public/Private/School collaboration, but the timeline has changed to “if/when the time is right.”

Did I mention that the Jr./Sr. High School has a greenhouse that is not visibly used? (It is not in use, according to one staff member). Read: School Garden potential! Well, the “bug in the ear” has been initiated, and I’m ready to help however I can. Circumstances here are a bit different than in Casey: Martinsville is a tiny school…supposedly the smallest to have a boy’s athletic program in the State (we have three). Martinsville also has a positive budget (one of eight? in the State). We are also the only City that is growing within the County, according to second-hand knowledge. Yes…much different than Casey.

And some ramblings:

Hmmm…. Well, one of my pet peeves is judging others by family name. I hate that about small towns. It has caused me grief. Worst of all, I’ve been as guilty as possible of doing  just that–judging and condemning a governing person’s family and family businesses due to kinship. This is another reason for my online disappearance; I’ve noticed that the foot in my mouth was gagging my brain. I’m guilty, and I apologize to anyone reading this that this relates to.

I did not complete the “State of the Food Hub” information that I was invited to fill out from the Wallace Center at Winrock. At the time, I was considering closing the Food Hub as an official entity…and I was not doing anything to forward the Food Hub physically or financially. Putting ideas into words for others to read does not meet my criteria for Food Hub status.

One last thing:  The “Seeds and Starts Campaign” was abandoned. I only have so much time, and my email program/Social Media information was so spread out that it hit the back burner. I bought seed and starts from local nurseries instead.

I guess that’s all I have for now. I’ll most likely blog again someday…deadlines/timelines are now officially removed for any posts in any forum!