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Position Descriptions – 2011

January 4th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Training - (Comments Off on Position Descriptions – 2011)

Position Descriptions – 1/2011, MikeR

North Slope Farm

Opportunities for the 2011 Season.

Please note, there are two categories of workers at North Slope Farm.

 1) Stewardship Guild – Trainee:

First Season:

  • Participation in, and Introductions to, core Farm Activities, as directed by Farm Manager.
  • Value: $3,000 (funded by StewardshipGuild.org), for 9 month season.
  • Minimum commitment “part-time,” at wages listed below (see Wage Laborer).
  • Personalized experiential focus, including consultations with Farm Manager.
  • Required to contribute to records of operation and postings on Website.

 Second Season:

  • Participation in core Farm Activities, at a rate of $8.50 per hour.
  • Regular record keeping, summary publication and Personal Focus.
  • Expectation of Focus on specific Farm Operations – ‘Element.’
  • ‘Element’:  Farm activities are broken down into specific elements, including;  administration, infrastructure, greenhouse, composting/waste management, equipment, planting, cropcare, harvesting, handling, marketing, special projects, etc..  You must chose an element to be responsible for, based on long term interests.  This will prepare you for the responsibilities of the third season.

 Third (final) Season:

  • Full responsibility for some element of farm activities.  A plan, including budget, timeline of activity and estimate of value of projected product/service should be presented to the Farm Manager before the end of proceeding season.  If the plan can be integrated into expected farm activities, you will be designated to execute the plan.
  • Compensation:  Compensation should be accounted for in the proposed budget for managing your element.  You will be responsible for budgeting your time.  Farm activities will rely on your fulfillment of your plan.  Individual contracts encouraged.
  • Non element compensation:  Time spent on other projects on the farm such as harvesting, planting, washing, marketing, will be compensated for at a rate of $9 per hour.
  • Successful Completion of Third Season will establish your eligibility for the highest rate of laborer pay; $10 per hour in future work, as well as active support in finding rewarding full time employment.

 2) Wage Laborer:

Starting wage:

  • No related experience: state minimum; $7.25 per hour.
  • Minimal related work experience (with references): $7.75 per hour.
  • Extensive agricultural experience (3 full seasons): $8.50 per hour.

Responsibilities and Basic Requirements:

  • Physical ability to manipulate buckets and crates up to 50 pounds.
  • Reliable adherence to pre agreed schedule.
  • Ability to handle tools responsibly and willingness to accept direction in their use and care.

Fresh Eggs from North Slope Farm

December 8th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Poultry - (Comments Off on Fresh Eggs from North Slope Farm)

Fresh Eggs from North Slope Farm

December 8, 2010

If you like a fresh egg and are interested in supporting a new agricultural venture, then read on…

North Slope Farm is invested in managing small flocks of hens for the production of eggs.

If you would like to join the list of interested consumers, please email northslopefarm@comcast.net, subject eggs.  We will reply and then update you as to egg availability.

The cost per dozen is $7.  Buyers clubs are encouraged and can receive reduced prices with minimum orders of 10 dozen per week.  Available at Hopewell Farmers Market, Wednesdays 2-6.  Local deliveries can be arranged.

During the Summer Season, the eggs are available at our farmstand and at the farmers markets we attend.

During the Winter season, the “new girls” start laying and our supply steadily builds.  Our goal at North Slope is to focus on the wholesale value of the product.  If the wholesale price is valid to support the production, then the situation is sustainable.  Primary cost is feed.  We conciously support our local feed store, that stocks Organic Feed, (Rosedale Mills, Pennington, NJ), and that item is a baseline cost.  Additionally, the cost of labor, bedding and infrastructure.

North Slope Farm is committed to fostering a sustainable business from our Poultry Special Project and we encourage you to contact us if you want to invest in your food!

West Amwell Township, Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment

November 17th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on West Amwell Township, Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment)

West Amwell Township Master Plan Reexamination Report, 2009 – Public Comment

November 17, 2010

West Amwell Twp Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment**

Michael Rassweiler

West Amwell, NJ 08530

I have been a resident of West Amwell since 1994, Owner and operator of North Slope Farm, located on the South East border of West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, NJ, USA.

The following comments are directly focused on the text and ramifications of the West Amwell Township Master Plan Reexamination Report of 2009.

Page 2, ‘Findings” section a:  “It was decided that public sewers were not appropriate in West Amwell ‘because of the negative impact they can have on the municipalities rural character’”

-This statement about sewers is contrary to the planning knowledge and advice published in both the NJ Department of Agriculture Smart Growth Plan, and the Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth.

-More accurately this sentence could read: “It was decided to seek the removal of West Amwells only Sewer Service line from the State Wastewater Management Plan.”

-Also, if the Planning Board truly honors the input of its citizens, there must be some reference to the huge response by the public, to the 2003 “proposed zoning changes.” – including a footnoted reference to the minutes of that historic public reaction.

– I suggest adding the sentence; The 2003 revision of the Master Plan was noticed to all WAT taxpayers and there was voluminous public testimony.  Provide Reference to the minutes from the meeting.

 Page 4, Objectives:  The planning Board would have us believe that a sole reliance on individual, on site wells and individual septic systems will: “protect natural resources, preserve open space for agriculture and maintain community character.”

This philosophy, or agenda, has been discredited regionally, nationally and internationally as insufficient and misdirected.  Please reference both the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan and the Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth.

Individual septic systems rely on positively establishing that household, commercial and industrial wastewater will enter the groundwater.  We should not seek to dilute pollution – waste water should be cleaned, and waste nutrients and energy should be captured.  This will be accomplished through managed wastewater systems.

Nor should we accept that land use planning, dictated by soil suitability to septic systems will protect agriculture or open space – Quite the contrary,

For example, the Planning Board, using soil suitability for septic systems has designated the highest allowable residential densities, RR-4, on our soils best suited for agriculture.

Page 7, Policies #3:  “The Township will consider and evaluate innovative design proposals that would enhance and protect environmental features, minimize energy usage and encourage development densities compatible with existing patterns of development.”

This policy basically describes “Clustering.”  In fact, to quote from the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan, “Clustering is a development design technique that concentrates buildings on a portion of land to allow for the remainder to be preserved for agriculture, recreation and environmental purposes.”

The Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth also highlights the importance of incorporating Clustering as a development policy crucial to curtailing the increasing rate of fragmented open spaces and poor control of development patterns.

What the West Amwell Plan hides or does not sufficiently explain, is that the policies stated are rendered impotent by the overriding criteria that all our land use planning and approvals are dictated by soil suitability to the least environmentally sound method of waste water management – the individual septic system.

Page 8, Residential Districts:  The statement that consideration of Transfer of Development Rights is irrelevant in West Amwell.  By removing the potential for consideration of Transfer of Development Rights, the Planning Board has given landowners, who are interested in pursuing development options, no ability to protect their equity except through taxpayer funded easement purchases (of dubious longevity) or standard large lot subdivisions. 

This action stands in direct contradiction to the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan which states “that the achievement , protection and maintenance of equity be a major objective of public policy decisions, including the purchase or transfer of development rights.”

Furthermore, the Board is sidestepping its real job – identifying areas where planned growth might provide affordable housing options and mixed use economic zones as well as options for public transportation and non-car dependant living.

In Summary;

  • The Planning Board’s proposed changes and recent changes to our Master Plan will,
  • Accelerate the likely subdivisions of the few remaining large agricultural and open space properties, through land use planning based solely on soil suitability to conventional septic systems,
  • Deteriorate the potential purity of our groundwater, by prohibiting wastewater cleaning facilities,
  • Sidestep their job, by refusing to discuss and identify future growth areas, and
  • Hide actions that actually accelerate, even more, the ruination of our last farmland through the “Redundant Septic Regulation” where by engineers are invited to design not just one failing septic system but Two!

 To Come Clean and Step Back Into the Light:

  • Make Clustering a requirement of all future subdivisions.
  • Repeal the Redundant Septic Regulation.
  • Reinstate and incentivize waste water treatment system options, that clean waste water and especially those that feed resources of water, nutrients and energy into agriculture.
  • And Finally, Take Responsibility for the hard job ahead of identifying growth areas and focus time, resources and attention to the details required to ensure that the inevitable future growth of West Amwell meets our Original Master Plan Objectives and Modern Realities.

 

**(I missed the public hearing by a year! but submit these comments to the public sphere because I feel strongly that the Master Plan has been abused by personal adgendas and a misguided belief in the power of limited options)**  

New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey

October 27th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey)

New Agricultural Ventures

NOFA – NJ Twilight Meeting

At North Slope Farm

Audio Files and Index

October 26, 2010

  • Chickadee Creek Farm, Jess Nierderer
    • First full season: 2010, Pennington
  • Human Nature Farms, Brian Hulme and John Applegate
    • First season: 2008, Rutgers Eco Complex,
  • Jahs Creation Organic Farm, Matthew Bruckler III
    • First season (full time): 2009, Egg Harbor Township
  • Piping Goat Creamery, Natalie Hamill
    • First season: 2009 (first cheese in 2011), Lawrenceville
  • Z Food Farm, David Zaback
    • First season: 2010, Lawrenceville

Our intention in this presentation is to focus attention on New Agricultural Ventures – partly to honor them, in particular for their investment and commitment to agriculture in NJ, and partly to be sure their voices are part of the discussion about what does agriculture need to get reinvigorated and thrive in NJ.?

The panelists were asked to respond to the following questions –

You can hear their responses by clicking on the Audio Sections below:       

Audio section 1: 14:44 minutes

A brief description of their operations.

Brief descriptions of the practical elements of their operations – main crops, scale of operation, and market outlets.

Before preparing the ground, planting area and livestock management areas for production, the panelists describe their vision – how did they picture their operation, or themselves engaged with their venture – what was the original vision?

Audio section 2: 57:06 minutes

The panelists were asked to share a story or their thoughts about challenges they have faced so far.

Additionally, what resources did they identify that have helped, or could help.

Audio section 3: 23:08 minutes

Panelists were asked;

What advice would they offer to someone who might follow in their footsteps,

If their vision had changed, what was the new vision, and

What thoughts about their experience would they share with their community, so the community might seek to invest in and support their efforts, and the new operations to follow?

Audio section 4: 5:01 minutes

Panel discussion beginning introductions, including the audience, and end of the panel announcements – including NOFA-NJ will sponsor any new farmers (ten years or less) who will attend the upcoming NOFA-NJ Winter Conference!!

Mike Rassweiler, of North Slope Farm, facilitated the discussion and shares his perspective below:

My thanks to the many folks who made the evening possible; from the crew at NorthSlope who prepared a unique and pleasing environment in our greenhouse, Steve Tomlinson who provided our audio recording, NOFA-NJ for another season of informative Twilight Meetings, our audience and our panelists for taking the time and risk of speaking publicly about their ventures!!

The time went by quickly, without the opportunity to ask for more detail from the panelists, which is why we will use this post to provide an index for the discussion; names and links for mentors the panelists mentioned, definition for terms and any other details that might help.

As New Jersey remembers how to grow its own food and necessities right here in the Garden State, we will need to pay attention to the words of our farmers – new and old.  We need to support farmers by buying their products, supporting their efforts and asking for their perspectives!!

Please share what you learn in the Audio Recording above and email us if you have questions – we will update the index in an effort to illuminate!

(Draft) INDEX, Glossary and Links

Farmer Mentors and Farms mentioned:

  • Pam Flory, when at Spring Hill Farm in Hopewell.
  • Matthew Conver, Cherry Grove Organic Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Kelly Harding, Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Herdsman at Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Jim Kinsel, Honeybrook Organic Farm, Pennington.
  • Rutgers Eco-Complex, Business Incubator.

Glossary of Terms:

  • CSA – community supported agriculture.  A term to describe the sale of shares of an operations anticipated yield.

Links:

New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey

October 26th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey)

NOFA Twilight Meeting October 26, 2010

www.NOFANJ.org

New Agricultural Ventures – Investing in New Jersey Agriculture !

 NOFA Twilight Meeting at North Slope Farm – Tuesday 5 pm to 7 pm,

followed by Potluck dinner!!

 

Four New Ventures speak out for New Jersey Agriculture!

 

Human Nature Farms
Brian Hulme and partner John Applegate
908-601-2512

www.HumanNatureFarms.com
Brianhulme1@aol.com or Bhulme@HumanNatureFarms.com

We are in our third year of operation.  My business partner John Applegate and I are research assistants at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension on Monmouth County where we learned about Organic/Sustainable Agriculture.  When greenhouse space became available at the Rutgers EcoComplex we decided to start a business.  We received our Org Cert and began growing herbs and leafy greens and began selling to local grocery stores such as Wholefoods and other small misc grocery stores as well as distributors.  We are currently in the process of moving into the produce distributing/brokering/packing side of things and would like to expand into other non-produce items as well. 

In other words, our business is at a crossroads and are open to many various endeavors.  This makes even more excited to meet and talk with other like-minded growers/entrepreneurs.  You can feel free to call/email for any other questions or to discuss the specifics of the program in more detail at any time.

 

JAH’S CREATION Organic Farm

Matthew Bruckler III

www.jahscreation.com

jahscreation@aol.com or telephone 609 272-9538 

2009 was my first year farming full time. We sold 64 Summer CSA shares and 34 Winter CSA shares. This was done on 3 acres of ground and the greenhouses.

This year (2010) our CSA grew to 113 Summer CSA members and 60 Winter CSA members. This is being done on 3.5 acres of ground and the greenhouses. We are currently in the process of adding another 2 to 3 acres to our certification for next year and look to break the 200 CSA member mark.

Through the past 3 summers we also did some farmers markets, restaurant sales and a little wholesale as well. We are growing rather fast, but I am keeping everything well under control. We have grown transplants for another farm for the past 2 seasons and blended soil for another farm. We also sold our fertilizer (which we developed) to a landscape company for the past 2 years.

The land that we farm is split in 2 locations right now. We will be adding another location for next year. We own no land, but rent it all. We travel 20 miles between farms right now. Some days I have been between the two location up to 3 times.

The goal of our operation is to make a good living from the land. By that, I mean to say that I wish to live a financially comfortable life and be free to travel from time to time. I am very happy to be away from the stress of the construction business. Farming has its own stress, but I am more than prepared for it! Currently, besides myself, I have a part time driver, one full time employee and then 2 others who help out part time.

In 2011 I expect to have about 6 to 7 acres in very intense production. I anticipate that it will take myself, 3 full timers, and another 1 or 2 part timers to do the work for the season. I look to gross over $200,000.00 in 2011 by growing our CSA to over 200 members. We will also do restaurant sales, wholesales and a farmers market or two. We are currently installing low tunnels to extend our seasons and will also be adding high tunnels for next year, if finances allow us to.

I am confident that we will grow this farm into something really big within the next 3 years, but I will have to spend a fortune to prime the pump! I expect that we will be one of the most well respected Certified Organic Farms in the state of New Jersey well before the year 2015. I will have to think about how far I want to go after that. I just might settle down and enjoy the comforts of farming, or maybe I will go all the way and make an empire out of this thing!

 Run for cover!     Run for cover!     Rasta Taking Over! 

 

Chickadee Creek Farm

Jess Niederer

ChickadeeCreekFarm@gmail.com

First production season began with spring harvests – March 2010.

Chickadee Creek Farm currently is producing produce and flowers on two acres.

Market outlets include two Farmers Markets, a ‘market share’ allowing customers to utilize prepaid credit to stock up at markets, including a sliding scale discount… And Restaurant Specialty Sales to The Brothers Moon, in Hopewell and Busters Café, in NYC.

 Goals for Chickadee Creek operator are best heard in person!  Not least of which are making great food accessible to all and real farm income to support the reality of owning land in NJ.

 

Z Food Farm

David Zaback

www.ZFoodFarm.com

 First production season began with spring harvests – 2010.

Renting land in Lawrenceville, Z Food Farm is a “diverse vegetable farm” with market outlets including Farmers Markets, a roadside stand and Specialty Restaurant Sales.

 Another reason to listen to the driving force behind New Agricultural Ventures, a “simple” goal for Z Food Farm is to provide great food and great food variety to its surrounding community.

 

Piping Goat Creamery

Natalie Hamill

nathamill@gmail.com

First production is expected in June of 2011, but to achieve that, breeding goats were purchased and have been managed since 2009.

Establishing herself on family land in Lawrenceville, the Piping Goat Creamery is intended to augment existing farmstand sales and wholesale accounts.

My Industrial Tomato

October 25th, 2010 | Posted by Casey in Product Information - (Comments Off on My Industrial Tomato)

The “Greens and Beans” page was created as a space to share nutrition information and recipe ideas for the bounty of life giving plants foods that we grow and make available to our community.  It is for individuals who  are interested in cooking and eating with the seasons. 

MY IDUSTRIAL TOMATO

Step right up and get your perfectly symmetrical, red tomato.  It was picked green by a machine, packed into a cardboard box and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to reach us.  Don’t worry, this tomato was bred deliberately to withstand these exact conditions and still reach us perfectly symmetrical and red.  All that was sacrificed was the flavor. 

Hybridization did not exist until the early 1950’s.  Up until that time, families selected tomatoes for a variety of desirable traits which always included flavor.  They saved the seed each season to ensure these varieties were passed down from generation to generation. 

The family heirloom tomato is how we refer to them today, in order to distinguish them from “industrialized” tomatoes.  They are often called “ugly tomatoes”, “antique tomatoes”, “heritage tomatoes” or “mystery tomatoes”.  There are so many shapes, colors, sizes and textures and all of them have flavor. 

Well, there is a bit more to the story here.  Flavor is not all that is being lost through hybridization of our plant foods.  We lose diversity.  Yup that’s a biggy.  It is a direct threat to our food supply.  Allow your mind to ride my drama-queen-brain-wave for just a few moments.  Think of it in terms of the Irish Potato Famine.  Were potatoes really the only thing they grew and ate?  No, but most of the land was planted with “the simple potato” destined for export.  Within six months of the first crop failure people began to starve to death and in the end over 1 million of them did.  Over the past couple of decades, our food industry (the Bristish if you will) is dictating what we (the Irish) consume.  We are losing diversity, nutrients,  and flavor quickly.  The question I have for you is “Are we as helpless as the Irish were?”.    

Do I think we are all going to starve to death if we do not protest hybrid tomatoes?  No I do not.  However, it does scare me how quickly and easily we have forgotten what a real tomato tastes like.

 Every heirloom variety is gentically unique.  Each has evolved in it’s own specific growing conditions where it is able to resist the diseases and pests that exist in the same tiny corner of the universe. 

It is up to us a gardeners and responsible stewards of the earth to assure we sustain the diversity gifted to us through heirloom varieties.   

The Spread

On a lighter note, below is a list of what we cooked up at last weeks Greens and Beans coooking club meeting. 

Tomato, Avacado and Corn Salsa

Tomato and White Beans Soup

Sliced Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil and

we dressed up our mixed greens salad with

Tomato Vinegrette Dressing.

Let’s Talk Nutrition

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamin E and protein.

Whenever a discussion comes up about the health benefits of the tomato, most of us think of the phytonutrient Lycopene.  Lycopene has a reputation as a cancer-fighting antioxidant.  A ton of research had been conducted to study this effect and not just on rats, on humans as well.  The antioxidant function of lycopene is known to help protect against prostrate, breast, endometrial, lung and pancreatic cancers. 

Lycopene is a fat soluble carotenoid which means in order to get the protective benefits of the tomato, you need to consume them with a fat.  Olive oil, cheese, avocado or nuts are some good options. 

The color of the tomatoes has also been studies for lycopene content.  A slightly higher amount can be found in the dark red and dark purple varieties.

I recommend buying organic.  Not just because I am an organic farmer but also because the organic tomatoes were found to contain much higher amounts of Lycopene.  Up to 5 times as much in some studies. 

Step right up and get your plump, juicy, deep red colored, vine-ripened, hand-picked, local organic heirloom tomato.

Winter Production – Introduction

October 19th, 2010 | Posted by steven in Special Projects | Winter Production - (Comments Off on Winter Production – Introduction)

Winter Production
Introduction, prepared by ST

October 19, 2010

Intent: To extend the growing season of leafy greens, lettuce, and root crops to serve our existing outlets such as Hopewell Farmers Market, Nomad Pizza, and Zone 7.

Parameters:

• Capital Investment; North Slope Farm

• Daily management; RCM and ST

• Site Details; infrastructure and fields managed by North Slope Farm
        o 6 outdoor low tunnels 5’ W X 40’ L
        o 2 unheated green houses
                  Farmhouse Gothic; 28’ X 84’ w/ 4 beds @ 48” wide
                  Ralph’s House; 27’ X 76’ w/ 4 beds @ 48” wide
        o 1 heated Greenhouse for table top production

• Outdoor low tunnels will cover crops such as tatsoi, spinach, and arugula. Two cuttings are expected for harvest. The hoops are constructed of 3/8” X 12’ rebar covered in recycled drip tube. The outer skin is 6 mil plastic that is 13’ W X 50’ W. A layer of remay may be added to the interior for extra warmth and reduced temperature fluctuation.

• One hoop house will be used for direct seeded crops such as spinach, arugula, tatsoi, and salad mix. The other hoop house will be used for transplanted crops such as kale, scallions, leeks, swiss chard, fennel, and beets. Carrots and radishes have been direct seeded into one open bed early, as the other beds are currently occupied by late planted tomatoes.

• .The heated greenhouse will be used for table top production of salad mix. Potted herbs such as parsley and basil will also be grown.

• Regular records will be kept of costs and production. Worker hours and market income will be tracked. The materials purchased should be able to be reused, improving profit margins in future seasons.
          o $385.60 for seed costs
          o $370 for plastic and remey over three years
          o $90.80 for rebar and sand over ten years
          o $108 for plastic sandbags over three year
                      Total $954.40 for one year

• Workers will have to be mindful of temperature to open and close the low tunnels or remove remey in the hoop houses. The difficulty of winter weather will be a challenge in harvesting, handling, and marketing. Costs will be calculated against profit to see if this is a viable operation for North Slope Farm.

• The inspiration for winter production at North Slope Farm came from a lecture at the NOFA summer conference. A Connecticut grower, in zone 3, presented a low tech option of covering field crops to produce a nutritious and profitable product for his customers during the winter time. This inspired me to keep producing local organic food through the winter. I hope that having a consistent presence through the winter will support existing customers and win over new customers. Winter production also keeps workers on the farm and in constant dialogue with agriculture. Some challenges we have already faced have been 30mph winds blowing off our outdoor low tunnels. Did we cut the plastic too short? Are the sandbags not filled enough? Do the tunnels need to be smaller? At what temperature should we open and close the tunnels? These are questions that have already risen and in the middle of the winter I am sure there will be many more. To supply fresh local organic food is the main goal and we will need support from our community to make it a reality.

Winter

Equipment – Special Focus

October 19th, 2010 | Posted by steven in Equipment | Training - (Comments Off on Equipment – Special Focus)

Equipment – Special Focus

 10/19/2010

 Summary

       My focus this year was equipment. The first task I had was to make a list and identify every piece of equipment on the farm. My list will need to be modified and added to because as the season rolled on more equipment emerged out of overgrown grass and other equipment never worked in the first place. Troubleshooting was eminent from all of the challenges we had with equipment failure this year. In the beginning of the season our main work horse, the ATV, would no longer start. After checking loose cables, gas lines, and the spark plug we realized that there was a more serious problem going on. I checked the internet with the ATV’s make, year, and model and all signs pointed to a problem with the electronic motor start system. This was further backed up when a proper electrical test determined it needed a new starter system. The ATV spent over a month and half in the shop and we were left to improvise with the equipment we had working to spread compost, assist in planting, and move vegetables and materials around the farm. We were very happy when the ATV came back from the shop.

            I started the season with retrofitting a trailer top to a new chassis. This was a great exercise in simple metal work and structural design. Out of tube stock and bolts I was able to customize an attachment point that has held strong all season with a lot of use.  General maintenance started with locating and greasing zerks (nozzles that the grease gun attaches to) on all of the machines so they were ready for the field. A procedure was placed when operating all machinery that entailed checking the fuel, coolant, and oil levels. Even though we tried to do this before each use, the hectic frenzy of trying to get things done when time allows led to some mistakes. We ran out of gas in the field and towed the tractor in with MR’s Volvo to only realize the tractor needed gas. Gasoline was put in the Kubota mower instead of diesel, something that was done several times in the past years as well. For the most part machines were fixed and we made do with what was available.

 Here are some notes from the maintenance log:

 John Deer 2240: Hydraulic hose leaked and it seems to be because of the new fitting attachment. We put Teflon tape and liquid rubber that created a gasket to solve the problem.

 Maschio Rototiller: Gear box set to medium low. This caused the Ford 4600 to overheat after two passes of rototilling. We set the gearbox to low and the overheating has stopped.

 Bachtold Mower: Blade would not engage when the lever was pressed. Everything seemed to work mechanically. The nut at the bottom of the mower was tightened and allowed the blade to be engaged.

 Spring Hoe tires: After pulling the implement out of overgrown grass we discovered the tires were rotted. MR found a local dealer for new tires, but we lost valuable hours to get into the field before the rain began

       The reality of farming is that not everything works when you need it to. Also, farming is dependent on weather and field conditions so failed equipment can be very disruptive. This season I had the opportunity to use all of the field implements to turn new ground, which require minimal maintenance and a working tractor. I also was able to trouble shoot small engine machines, which are critical in bed preparation and field care. I have learned that we need to have a station that is organized and in a central location to fix our small machines and tractors.  We need to label our fuel clearly as well. Our hand tools we use in the field can also be reorganized for better care and clarity for potential newcomers. As the season slows down I am looking forward to placing some procedures in place dealing with equipment and finally doing the much needed oil change on all of the tractors.

P4210010

Poultry – Introduction

October 14th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Poultry - (Comments Off on Poultry – Introduction)

Poultry – Field Birds

Introduction

October 14, 2010

 Intent: To establish the viability and management practices of “small flocks” of laying chickens (layers), on seasonal pasture, free roaming except at night.

 Parameters:

  • Capital Investment; North Slope Farm.
  • Daily Management; North Slope Farm.
  • Site Details; infrastructure and fields managed by North Slope Farm.
  • Enterprise; 3 total flocks of 50 birds each, annually.  Each year 50 new chicks will be started and at the end of the season the oldest flock will be retired.  Each flock will yield 2 seasons of production, over a managed lifespan of 3 seasons.
  • Flocks will be managed according to Generally Accepted Organic Practices, with a focus on access to outdoors, and Organic Feed.  Ideally investment dollars will be directed to local businesses, ie; feed from Rosedale Mills in nearby Pennington, NJ.  Chicks currently purchased from Moyers Chicks, in Quackertown, PA, due to past business and good reputation. 
  • Regular records will be kept of costs and production.  North Slope Farm will be responsible for costs and income of the operation.
  • Information about the project, including annual summaries, will be shared on our website under Special Projects; Poultry.

 Data Points:

  • Baseline value of a dozen eggs wholesale: $4.50
  • Retail value: $7

Summary as of October 2010:

Farm manager and trainees currently manage two flocks of layers.  The ‘08’s have been retired from production, so the ‘09’s are the “old girls” now.  The 210’s (chicks started in 2010) are out of their baby pen, into the big girl housing but not yet on pasture.  Their coop is built into a fenced yard for the winter, so they will not be on pasture until Spring 2011.  They are first in line for special treatment though – vegetable waste from market garden as well as hay and sprouted grains for scratch.

2010 was hard on the field girls with serious losses to foxes.  We anticipate increased pressure as cold weather sets in.  To avoid loses over the winter we need to enclose the girls, ideally into a large greenhouse, but at least a fenced yard.  The winter setting for the 2010’s is established but where we’ll park the 09’s is still up for debate.  Getting them into a situation where we can build extra protection from the winter extremes is the priority.  Also critical is to have them near to our winter water source.

The costs of the enterprise are primarily in Feed.  Labor is the other major item.  The labor required at minimum is Morning and Night.  The opening of their coop in the morning, freshening bedding, filling feed and fresh water.  Evening chores include closing coop, securing feed and collecting eggs.  We typically visit the coops up to three times a day, collecting eggs and checking feed and water in the afternoon.  Each week the field coops are moved to a new section of pasture.  The section of pasture has a perimeter of 330’ as defined by two 165’ lengths of “Poultry Net” (from GrowersSupply.com) – Cost at purchase $170 each.  We sort the eggs into Market (clean from coop) and Farmer (needs cleaning).  The farmer eggs are available to our trainees (and community investors) at reduced cost.  The Market eggs are rinsed prior to packing and selling each week.  Current average yield for thiry layers is 13 market dozen per week, at $4.50 – about $60 for a weeks worth of tending (not enough even to support a workers responsibilities at $10/hr).  The goal will be two flocks of 50 each, yielding 43 doz, or $190 for a weeks worth of tending.  The working assumption is that more birds than that would exceed our ability to manage optimally.

Future discussion:  Establish a viable wholesale cost.  Assess production management; strengths and weakness.  Assess production potential and identify limitations to operation.  Identify values and costs of enterprise not reflected in hard data collected.

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Moveable Coop and fence

Invest in Agricultural Enterprise

October 14th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Invest in Agricultural Enterprise)

Agricultural Enterprise Opportunities

NorthSlopeFarm, West Amwell NJ, USA

October 14, 2010

A challenge for agricultural enterprise is capitalization.

 To provide an incentive for Farmers to invest themselves in regenerative, environmentally sensitive, quality production of locally valuable products and services,

Those with access to “underutilized” capital can invest it,

In Agricultural Enterprise !!

North Slope Farm is developing a public format to track the evolution of “small scale agricultural enterprise”.  The base data being the information shared on this web site and through our Training Program about the basic operation of North Slope Farm.

 We will track our new enterprises under the Category – Special Projects – Poultry.

 Agricultural Enterprises currently listed:

  • Poultry – Field Birds

 How North Slope Farm can help you invest in Agricultural Enterprise:

  • Shop from Local Farmers!!  Join us at Farmers Markets!!
  • Ideally North Slope Farm hopes to establish its Trainees in positions of responsibility, managing valuable resources to regeneratively produce products and services for local communities.  Each Trainee has their own hopes and desires but most will be challenged by available capital to invest in long term plans and effort.  To encourage investment by outside parties – sympathetic to the real challenges of doing good – North Slope Farm can serve to partner with Trainees, active and graduated, and individuals or groups from the community who would like to actively invest in Agricultural Enterprise.
  • To discuss agricultural investment opportunities email – northslopefarm@comcast.net ; subject Agricultural Enterprise