Reflections and New Beginnings 2018
Foote Farm Christmas Letter
Here it is folks, our annual musings about the past year on the farm. These have been interesting times for us this past year. I say that not as a purported curse but as an expression of surprise, gratitude and general happiness. WARNING: At some point in this letter you may detect a subtle sales pitch for our products and you know me, I am nothing if not subtle.
The first picture shows our Basil experiment we did with WSU using biochar and compost! Contact us if you want to find out the results. The short of it however is t hat using biochar “charged” in good compost really produces a strong healthy basil plant.
The second picture is Thom cleaning our Gogi berries in preparation for freezing.
In farm news, we planted and harvest about 500 garlic and sold these through the co-op we helped start and belong to. We sold both culinary and seed garlic. In October of this year we planted 800 cloves. This will become one of our major crops and money producers along with horseradish roots and sauce. This year we also planted and sold about 400 plant starts at a local plant expo. This next year we will increase this to about 800 – 1000. This will become another major income producer for us.
All of these products, while sounding labor intensive, are actually not so much. They represent intense bursts of labor at different times of the year. I also continue to produce and market my pesto, vegan pesto and horseradish sauce which are popular at a local organic grocery store. At our stage in life we have realized the “labor” budget is as important as other parts of the budget. While we love having interns and volunteers help us they may not be around as much or at the time we most need them so we have to manage this with that in mind!
After 6 years of building both the farm and the soil, we are finally arriving at a point where our farm name is recognized and has become synonymous with high nutrient value, high quality, sustainably grown herbs and produce. People also seek us out for farm tours and for an introduction to permaculture which we continue to use and embrace. Anyone is welcomed!!
Another part of our farm are the items that Torie Wildcrafts. We make things that are a blend of wild items from the woods around us mixed with things that we plant. She now has a collection of tinctures, oils and salves that are selling very well. Meanwhile the Herbal Guild she co-founded with a master herbalist is growing. There are about 80 members and they are beginning to reach out to the community with things that may make them healthier. We see more people like us trying to reduce pharmaceuticals and use less invasive methods to wellness. They also have a monthly study group and learn how to make and sell herbal things. So we continue to expand into the medicinal arena with very successful salve (great for those old stiff hands and achy joints), Elderberry syrup for colds, etc.
We are offering a basket this January for “wellness” some of those items will be in there. This basket will sell for $49. A sample of one is shown here.
Speaking of trend’s this year’s scarecrow is titled “Me Too”. I am sure this will scare some folks… Not sure what next years scarecrow will be -each year Torie highlights a new hero or ??? If you have any ideas send them along.
Torie has also been working with the Spokane Food Policy Council to try and develop a food plan for our region. Many communities have such a council (and many do not). But it is a way to help preserve farm land (that place where most of our local food comes from), encourage action plans in case of emergency and develop ways to get real food to the inner city or other very remote places. Remember the good old days when most of our food was real and organic? Now that kind of food is something special and expensive!
We do encourage each of you to investigate your local food plans and ask local governments to put a plan in place to support the small local farms. We are losing hundreds of these farms (dairy, meat and produce farms) in all states each year!! The saying has been get big or fail and we are seeing more recalls from these mega farms as well as animals or products that are not as healthy for you and I as those grow in smaller scales. These farms also tend to get pushed into unsustainable business models with too much borrowing, and they fail. Meanwhile, the little guy can’t get a sustainable loan to start a small farm. In the old days people went into it through homesteading (muscle not cash). That is no longer available and access to realistic capitol is difficult. Torie wants to start a farm foundation (The Well) to give small farmers access to better capitol. Anyone who wants to help contact us.
Meanwhile, our farm family has grown. Last winter Colin came to visit and left behind his cat. He has been moving around a bit and it did not go well with the cat. So, we acquired Moose.
He was an inside cat and has now become a good mouser and uses the great outdoors for his litter box. My kind of cat. No slouchers allowed.
In October we also acquired a puppy, named Seiko (watch dog). She is part (if not all) Pyrenees. We wanted a big outdoor dog to help protect the animals. The cougar and coyote population has been active and the more dog noise you have the less they tend to come around. We had raccoons take out most of our chickens a few years ago and when we have the pigs (we raise two a year) or turkeys we get nervous with the other predators. It will be awhile before she feels emboldened enough to do anything, as a baby she dives for cover when new things appear. Her saving grace is that she is such a cutie, and one of those extremely happy beings. She bounces in to say hi and tries to bound over to the cats who stay carefully out of the way. Thank God for Chena (the lab mix) who is so patient and able to help train her and take her energy!
We have been working on a way to finish our house (currently known as the bunker).
Wish us well as we work on finding the funds to go forward. Our hope is that next year we will be in a near finished
house and of course you all are invited!! And if you have time to swing a hammer we will post a schedule and you can come join us.
Meanwhile there is always the tiny house!
We close with our heartfelt hope that life is going well for all of you and the knowledge that life’s bumps and bruises heal and fade into memory. We also offer an invitation. If you ever need a refuge, an ark, a place to recover from some serious bumps and bruises, please consider our farm. We have a tiny house that may, someday, have something more than a humanure toilet and a setting that offers a calming, serene off grid experience. Just let us know a day or so in advance.
Stay tuned for our New Years Blog about more things you can do in the coming years….
Love, Thom & Torie
Susan and Jack Cushing says
We were just telling some friends about Seiko last night. Andy Haas and Terri Spigelmyer. Remember them from Bethel? Just now reading your Reflections blog! Another Seiko! Yay . . .
Also wonder if you have heard of an old-timer Sherrie Johnson, from Alaska, who has passed away but owned an herbal medicinal farm north of Colville near the border? She was one of Doc’s best friends, bookkeeper, and friend to the end. You may have met her at Doc’s, Torie. I remember she said she sold her farm to an herbalist lady.
Exciting to read your progress!
Torie Foote says
This Seiko has a good heart like our old Seiko did!
I still miss her so we got another one 🙂
I don’t remember Sherrie-wish we had met! I do have a good friend in Colville tho that also does herbs. I bet she moved there after Sherri passed…