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

What's in a name?
Juggling off-farm jobs to make ends meet leaves some farm chores lagging and one farmer frazzled (but still smiling).

By Joshua Flowers
Posted June 16, 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

June, 2005. Some may wonder about the name “Easy Growin’ Farm.” I myself am beginning to reconsider the moniker because at this point it seems to be anything but easy. Initially, I came up with this phrase as a result of observing the wondrous activities that abound in my garden over the course of a season. When one really thinks about the natural processes taking place from seed to harvest, it is nothing short of a miracle. And from this perspective, the farmers’ contribution is relatively simple. A little planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, and occasionally fighting off insects and disease is about the gist of it. I now realize that these few tasks can consume the better part of a day and leave one completely spent.

However I am just beginning to get a taste of these kinds of days. It seems I have only been able to manage one or two days a week for full-time farming as my schedule has been incredibly hectic with the various side jobs I have taken to obtain the financial resources needed to keep the farm running. I have managed to avoid accumulating debt in order to start this farm, but the tradeoff is the amount of time I am pulled away for other work. This has been a bit frustrating, but is necessary if “Easy Growin’” is going to evolve to the point that it can offer me a fulltime job.

Looking at my day planner I realize that the first farmers market is a week away, and it is a bit daunting to think about all that needs to be accomplished in that short span of time. I have taken on the responsibility of being the market manager, as the previous manager has found it more profitable to peddle his crafts on eBay and passed along the position to anyone willing to step in. I’m not sure I was willing, but it seemed that if there was going to be a market at all, I had to do it. People weren’t exactly standing in line to fill the role. So I have been spending time down at town hall trying to make sense of the various rules and regulations involved with using town space for selling goods. Right now the market will be small, with only myself offering produce and bread along with another lady offering farm-fresh eggs. Guess that is still better than the hot-dog vendor and painter who made up last year’s “farmers” market.

Between my off-farm jobs and barn chores I have managed to find time to break out the tiller and plant peas, onions and asparagus. I only tilled to establish new garden beds. A cultivating tool was used to gently work one inch of manure about two inches into the soil of the remaining beds.

All of the vegetable and flower starts indoors and in the cold frames are ready to be transplanted. I believe I have three days “off,” which will allow me to get this accomplished as well as plant the rest of the seeds that have been patiently waiting to find a home in the freshly tilled, manure-enriched garden beds. It will be great to finally get these seeds planted, as this should have been done two to four weeks ago. Luckily I am not competing to be the farmer with the earliest produce to offer, because I’m pretty sure I would come in dead last.

Despite the challenges of feeling like I am way behind schedule and being frustrated about too much time away from the farm, this experience is proving to be a positive one overall. I am learning tons about the patience required and the sacrifices one must make to enjoy farming. I am also constantly reminded that if you can not laugh at your mistakes, it is going to be a long haul. So I will sit back tonight and chuckle over the fact that today I turned my cold frame into an oven and nearly baked my little starts by forgetting to open the light (lid) during the hottest part of the day. I will smile as I think back to my lack of foresight as I set out some starts to harden them off, only to come back an hour later and realize that I had laid out a living salad bar for a couple of hungry hens.