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Barefoot Farmer

Barefoot Farmer - Jeff Poppen

The Barefoot Farmer (Jeff Poppen) uses his farm (Long Hungry Creek Farm) as an example in demonstrating good farming principles. The landscape and atmosphere of the 21st century is leaning away from a small farm economy, bucolic scenery, sustainable agriculture and homegrown meals. The health of ourselves and our environment can only be enhanced by a reliance on local small farms for our needs. To learn more about these principle join Jeff Poppen with his weekly column - Barefoot Farmer.

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Time to Move and Move We Did PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
We did not complain about the rain, but our spirits fired up when it finally dried up. After the wettest spring in many years, and a bit of consternation over all the seeds still in their packets, the weather cleared and the sun came out. It’s time to move and move we did.
First things first. The spring crops (Onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, swiss chard, parsley and celery) all get hoed and cultivated before we can plant. The rows are laid off for the summer vegetables. The extra day or two helped dry the soil out a little more, but some spots were still damper than I like.
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Sowing Seeds PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Sowing seeds is the climax of the spring preparations. Cover crops are mown, tons of well-aged, biodynamic compost have been spread, the fields are plowed, rebroke and harrowed a few times, adequate rock minerals, like limestone, have been incorporated, and it’s finally time to plant. I like to say that most of the garden work happens before I plant, but I am simply implying how important it is to do those other jobs correctly.
We sow and transplant everything by hand. Furrows are usually made with the tractor. Or the very small seeds, we will make shallow furrows with a hoe. A seed is usually covered with soil about four times it’s own thickness. For instance, a half-inch long pumpkin seed would be planted two inches deep.
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Blackberries PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Blackberries are another great crop for Tennessee. All you have to do is pick them, for they grow wild on many farms. Briars, as we call them, can be a thorn in your side. And hands, and arms, and feet. But blackberries make up for the scratches with abundant fruit in July.
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Apprenticeship Program PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Long Hungry Creek Farm has an apprenticeship program, sort of. In an effort to expand interest in local food production, we encourage young folk to experience life on a working organic farm. People come and go through regularly. Some of our apprentices have gone on to start their own farms, and some realize that farming isn’t for them.
How will you know if you don’t try? Farm life offers great lessons even if you don’t take it up as a career life calling. The demand for local, organic produce is greater than the supply, so there is a huge opportunity here for enjoyable employment. We have a lot of fun growing vegetables. We have never used grant money; that farm pays it’s own way.
For 30 years, friends and visitors have helped on the farm. Eventually I hired a few friends, and we work on something most days. We don’t depend on labor from others, but appreciate when it happens. It frees us up a bit to either get extra stuff done, or relax a bit more than we would otherwise.
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Spring Garden PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Our spring garden is finally out of my mind and in the ground. We had to work some soil before it was thoroughly dry, and are now dealing with the subsequent clods. They got raked away from the row and into the middles, where the tractor tire and cultivators can break them up.
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