By Margret Muller
Jeffry and Margret of Seeing Stars Farm (SSF), with support and assistance from the rest of the Land Stewardship Circle, held a Last Saturday event on January 26 at Hart’s Nest. Sixteen people gathered to launch what we are calling the Community Farming Initiative (a.k.a. “Farm-Aid”, minus the famous musicians, sadly).
- Part of Hart’s Mill’s mission is to learn to feed ourselves from the land as best we can, using best practices, as spelled out in both our Mission and Aims document and Principles and Intentions document, especially P&I #3. This will require education, practice, trial-and-error, and so on. Though doing this is challenging without a physical community in place, it seems like a good idea to make a small start on this now. SSF has been farming on our land for two years. We’ve learned a lot and can assist with this new project almost immediately.
- A second big motivator is that HM was given a substantial farm loan a while back, repayment of which will need to start next year. The investor would very much like this loan to be repaid BY THE FARM, to the extent feasible.
- To understand the difference between farming for profit and farming to feed oneself.
- To emphasize that earning money farming is NOT Hart’s Mill’s long-term goal—it is a short-term goal with the benefits of loan-repayment, gaining experience, increasing activity on the land, building the soil, learning to work together, etc.
- To learn about annual crops that are best-suited for this purpose, including considerations of seasonality, uniqueness, sale-ability, income-vs-labor ratios, ease of production, storage needs, and more.
- To form break-out groups to brainstorm about ideal crops and considerations, returning to the group for discussion.
- To have one or more teams, with thoughtful choices of crops, commit to inaugurating the project this year. Jeffry laid out what SSF would and would not do to support the members, the idea being to help and advise but not actually grow the crops(!). Sales will be through The Chapel Hill Farmers Market, and possibly also internally to HM folks.