NEW FARMER JOURNAL: Easy Growin' Farm, Buena Vista CO

Right neighborly
Our new farmer with an altitude discovers his community abounds with treasures there for the asking.

By Joshua Flowers
Posted May 12, 2005

Farm-At-A-Glance

Easy Growin' Farm
Buena Vista, CO

Farmer: Joshua Flowers

First season: 2004

What they raise: Mixed vegetables, goats (for milk products), edible flowers, herbs, raspberries, eggs

Marketing strategies: Health food store, farmers’ market

April, 2005. After experiencing one of the more intense winters we have had in years, I was beginning to wonder if a new season would ever materialize. But spring has finally arrived in true fashion here in the mountains of Colorado. The garlic is now poking up through the mulch. A few spinach plants, leftover in a cold frame from the fall, are looking perky again. My goats are regularly filling the pail to the rim, and those little egg-dropping machines have decided they are comfortable enough to turn up production a bit. The weather has allowed me a few days to actually get out and work on gardening projects while enjoying the sunshine.

The greenhouse is now partially assembled after my folks and a good friend came over to lend their backs. It was, supposedly, a day-long project for two, however, as carpentry skills were a bit lacking, we took the better part of the day and still didn’t quite get it wrapped up. So I have put that project on hold for the time being and turned my focus to getting seeds started, a couple of weeks late.

Following the suggestions of Elliot Coleman, my “gardening guru”, I constructed three cold frames out of bales of hay, wood, and various windows that I salvaged. The seeds were started in a mix of peat moss, perlite, manure, worm castings, lime and bone meal. This mix was poured directly into the cold frames about 3 inches deep. In theory, the seedlings will be “potted up” by cutting them out and transferring them to another section of the cold frame with more of the starting mix. Once they are ready for transplant, I will cut them into 3-inch blocks and transfer them to their permanent homes. It’s a cheap way of making soil blocks without the fancy and pricey (by my farm income’s standards) “blocker” contraptions. As nighttime temperatures are still dipping into the freezing zone, I was a bit leery about the success of germination, but hey, Eliot’s the guru and he says it can be done. (I threw some blankets over them just to make sure.)

The manure was a Godsend, as have been many of the items that have been procured for the farm. It is one of the many blessing of living in a small town. Seems all I have to do is casually mention that I am looking for this or that and inevitably I am linked up with someone who just happens to be ready to part with the very object I am in search of. In the case of the manure, I was talking with a family friend one day about compost and she told me that the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) she works for was loaded with horse waste. Little did I realize that this was not any ordinary equine excrement. After loading my pick-up with the well-aged goods, I headed to the post office. As I am sitting in my truck reading a letter, I notice this fellow eyeballing my pile of poop in a lustful fashion. As I get out, I watch as he buries his hand nearly wrist-deep in the dark, rich heap. “Where did you find this?” he nearly begs. I give him the details and he excitedly tells me of his love for composting. Turns out he was once quite the expert on the process, writing about it for Organic Gardening magazine back in his earlier years. He has promised his wife manure for her birthday and is giddy as a little boy that he will be able to provide her with a gift as fine as this.

With a 5-year-old pile of manure waiting to find its way into the garden, compostables coming in from egg customers and hopefully a few restaurants, seeds germinating away, a happy herd of goats and flock of chickens, and an eight hour a week job/education at Echo Organics, I feel like things are moving in the right direction. Even if I am a bit behind schedule, thanks to a great community of family and friends and a healthy dose of sunshine, Easy Growin’ farm is becoming a reality.