Farm Happenings at Ecosystem Farm
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Growings On 5/26/20

Posted on May 26th, 2020 by Kirsten Simmons

Remember how last week I was talking about land tenure and not having the security to know that I'll be able to harvest the crops I put in the ground?

Today, the owners of the Wrecking Barn got a letter of intent for lease to purchase on the south side of the property. To their credit, they told me within two hours of getting the offer. Also to their credit, they gave me the option to counter. 

So now I have to decide. The south side is 60% of the farm. It includes the wash station, house, walk in cooler, chicken coop, blueberries, figs, apples, muscadines and 4 of 5 high tunnels. I've already moved 600 chickens there, and started preparing the ground to plant. I've spoken with the lady who farmed it from 2009-2011, and she confirmed that it can be so much more productive than it is now. I'd planned to try to buy it after a season, to get a feel for how it farms. Instead I have 2-3 days to decide whether I want to pursue owning this space, and the several hundred thousand dollars of debt it will take to do so.

I know how to make the numbers work on paper. But do I trust that I can make them work in the real world? I've done well as a farmer over the past few years, but my strawberry field is the first farm income stream that has truly gone according to the numbers. And more importantly, is this the place I want to set down? If I wait, can I get land closer in to the city? If I choose to wait for that something better, I won't have enough space to incorporate animals into the systems the way I'd planned to. What will it cost me to bring in the organic matter to jump start a soil food web in this space without animals? And what will it cost me emotionally to invest in soil I won't be able to keep?

At the end of the day, choices are binary. You either do something, or you don't. And yet so many pieces feed into that binary decision. To buy or not to buy. Jump or not to jump. Trust my calculations and abilities or ... don't.