Saturday, December 18, 2010

Growing Green Awards, My Nomination

Why not do something nice for a farmer you admire this season?

After seeing this display of freshly ground local flour at the Medford Farmers' Market last summer, I visited Dunbar Farms. I spent a morning talking to David Mostue on his 101 year-old family farm. I was so impressed with his approach to farming and his farm plan for the future, I decided to write an article about the farm, Mostue's link to the urban community and plans for his farm.

One thing after another came up and when I don't have an absolute deadline, these projects can get put off. Come on I'd tell myself, all I have to do is organize my notes, send off a few queries. But it all takes time, and time slipped by.

Perusing my email last month, I read about the NRDC Growing Green Awards, so I went to the Website, read the requirements for the nominees and thought about David Mostue, wondering if he'd fit the requirements. I'd have to sort through all my notes.

So that's what I did. I came away thinking, Mostue's farm plan could be a great model for a farm of the future. Mostue called it "beyond organic," and it's very green.

When I told David I wanted to nominate him, he said, "I'm too young and there are so many more deserving farmers." At 26, David is young for a farmer, but he's doing many innovative things on his farm and it's easy to see he's thought out his plans into the future.

The key was to do it in 250 words. Here are a few things I mentioned:
  • Saves and grows his own seed, and uses less inputs because he grows only what his land supports--hay, vegetables, whole grains, beans and wine grapes. These are wheat berries set out on black plastic in the sun to dry. The wheat is then cleaned and sold as berries or ground into flour.
  • Uses dry-land farm techniques to conserve water. Never used a pesticide or chemical fertilizer and is closing the loop using only on-farm generated inputs.
  • Crop diversification is such that pests "can't generate enough steam to become a problem. In fact his crops are so diverse, David hopes to be a full service farm to a limited number of people instead of growing random crops for thousands of nameless customers. He'll have storables of plant-based proteins (beans) and carbohydrates (grains), as well as spring through fall vegetables and wine grapes. He has also added chickens (eggs) and goats (milk). Meat is also on the schedule for the future.

  • Saves seed--Mostue has been reseeding grains and beans on larger scales and he'll eventually have enough to sell in his own community.
  • Has plans to teach what he knows to gardeners and other farmers and also plans to offer his vintage Alli Chalmers combine as a farm service to other farms. Mostue spends hundreds of hours restoring vintage farm equipment for his farm and says there is lots of farm equipment rusting away in fields that can be restored by farmers. He uses draft horses for farm labor.
  • Participates in the Rogue Valley farm to school program and also has a farm camp where urban children learn to grow, harvest, and cook food. He also participates in Farm to Fork dinners where community members attend dinners featuring all the food from his farm. Pasta made with durham wheat was on the menu last fall.

I forgot to mention this very cool passive solar house David is building, using many recycled materials.

I think I'm over my word count this time around and okay maybe there are farmers more deserving, and I'm not sure about my bullet outline for the nomination, but the whole thing was worth a shot. Besides, the real pay off for nominating someone for the Growing Green Awards is a great feeling.

Do something nice for someone today and discover the real gifts of the holiday season.

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