Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

It has been a long time since I've added a post to this blog or even checked in on this page. As last season ended I believed that I would no longer be gardening our beautiful plot of land at Virgate Farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland. With a move to Baltimore and a new job I had put the garden behind me a blazed ahead as I always do. Last week I made a pit stop into my old stomping grounds at Cafe Nola to see some familiar faces and enjoy a delicious cup of Illy coffee. While I was there, I heard through the grapevine that the opportunity to farm at Virgate was available. I wasted no time in calling my friends at Virgate to ask if this was indeed true... and it was! I'm excited to announce that this season I will be working the grounds with my girlfriend Sara and my daughter Amber. Within the past week we have whipped ourselves into gardening shape by ordering our seeds, planning this years planting schedule, and looking into farmer's markets within the Baltimore city limits to sell our produce to the good people of Baltimore. I have also contacted Wes Haynes, who is the head chef at Cafe Nola to get an idea of what specialty veggies he can use this season in Nola's kitchen. I am so damn excited to be turning the corner on year three at the garden!

This year will bring about some new things for me and for the farm. Sara and I will be undertaking this project independently this year, meaning we will have the option to sell what we grow to whomever wants our produce. This means we've got multiple factors to consider and lots of questions to answer. Such as; where do we sell our produce? Does it make more sense to work farmer's markets or sell directly to restaurants? Is a CSA in the cards for next year and how do we prepare for that? What will our niche be in the market? These, among many others are the questions that we hope to answer this season.

As we begin our cleanup process of Virgate farm this spring I am filled with memories of the past two seasons. The initial enthusiasm that permeated the halls of Cafe Nola our first year of production. The beautiful heirloom tomatoes we harvested and the amazing specials that Wes prepared with them. I see the faces of our chickens as my daughter tried to marry the roosters to specific hens and remember all of the good times we had on this magical piece of property. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity yet again. I'd like to thank Marie, Paul and the entire Landau family for the opportunity to once again hone my skills as an organic grower.

Sara and I were talking the other day about what really excites us about this season, and of the many, many things we mentioned the one thing we both laughed about was our excitement to be tan and buff again this year. Organic farming, while I believe it to be a major contributor to the good of our world, is also an ass-kicker and it whips you into shape better than any gym membership ever could. Take spin class and pilates and combine them with weight training and a membership to a tanning salon and you begin to understand the physical health benefits of living off the land. I love it. Nowadays, people go to work and then have to make time to go to the gym in order to stay healthy, but natural living combines work and exercise into one beneficial movement. I long for the days of our natural ancestors. While tiring and rigorous, living off the land gives us a real understanding of survival and puts us very close to the razor's edge of life and death. Modern ideas like security and independence only domesticate and distance us from our understanding of survival, which in my eyes is the only true independence. Modern 'independence' means living alone and being plugged into a network of systems (food, gas, electric, housing, etc.) which provide us our way of life. Were this system to fail we would have the same looks on our faces that domesticated cattle have if they were set free.

That's all the ranting I have for this entry. Sara, Amber and I are excited to dive in and get filthy this year. Here come the blog posts!

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Comment by Cornelia on February 28, 2012 at 3:00pm

Hoooray! Congratulations Doug - what terrific news! I know we all enjoyed your posts from Nola Farm and I'm so excited to get stories from your new venture. Making those marketing decisions - and achieving the right mix - is a challenge for many small farmers. Other farmers are usually the best resource and sounding board for big decisions. Congratulations again!

Comment by Farm Frederick on February 28, 2012 at 3:05pm

Thank you.

Comment by Yvonne on March 1, 2012 at 2:22pm

It's amazing how things fall into place when the time is right.   Wishing you, Sara and Amber all the best in your new venture.  I'll be dropping by your blog to see how things are going : ) 

Comment by Farm Frederick on March 1, 2012 at 2:25pm

Awesome. Thanks.

Comment by Marianne Smith on March 2, 2012 at 4:04pm

Congratulations!  I'm not sure I could ever give up my garden (as small as it is).  I look forward to reading about your adventures this season.


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