My Dad successfully grew vegetables and a U-pick raspberry patch on about an acre and a half of land. He was a want-to-be-farmer. I loved eating strawberries, peas, and other things straight from that garden. I loved to follow stepping in my Dad's footprints as he tilled the land with his Honda tiller, sinking in the moist soil with each step. I loved watching the many kinds of bugs that lived in and around the garden. I had dreams of bringing all the bugs and reptiles into my room and having them live in a jungle-like environment. I did collect many and brought them into my room and let them free. Where all the praying mantises, jumping spiders, butterflies, snakes, and frogs went after that, I know not.
Over the years, many of my beloved creatures have vanished completely from the fields nearby. The few bugs I still see are not nearly as numerous as they once were. Even the birds and bees have largely disappeared from once healthy large numbers. Unfortunately, the disappearance of bugs occurring in our own back yards is largely untracked. Our brains are predisposed to be easily trained to fear certain small creatures. As germs are necessary for all life to be healthy, should not bugs be too? Are not bugs a sign of a healthy environment where small things can thrive and bigger things, like birds and frogs, thrive as well?
In the last twenty years, pesticides have been switching from traditional pesticides that break down in a few weeks to neonicotinoid pesticides that are easily absorbed in water and linger in the environment for months to years. Many places are increasingly using systemic pesticides liberally, which get absorbed into the flowers, pollen and fruits. It may not kill the bees directly, but I have doubts the consequences of these long-term pesticides are positive. What I do know, is countries that have banned systemic pesticides have seen bee populations return.
Aside from all the fears of cancer, bird deaths, amphibious animal deaths, long-term water contamination and many other things that pesticides may or may not cause, we simply love nature and see no reason to live against it. With knowledge of how pests thrive, crop rotation, physical barriers, physical removal, and natural predators, most bugs are a minor threat. Our garden will have less pests than many people who use pesticides, because with pesticides, all the natural predators are killed; leaving only pests.
I have followed my Dad's and Grandparent's footprints, and have had a garden most of my life. During a financially stressed period of life, my wife and I decided we could sell produce for extra cash, and maybe a living.
Little Field Produce was established in 2010. In our first year, we only had a roadside stand to bring in extra income. When we finally had produce to sell, Alisa and I were so proud! It was a small box with a few cucumbers and peppers with newspaper underneath to prop it up so people could see them. We were sure when people drove by they wouldn't pass up such wonderful looking vegetables. Such excitement......such disappointment..... when people drove by without a glance. It was the lemonade stand all over again! As excited and proud as we were, it was bizarre to see that others driving by weren't. Who wouldn't want that basket?
In about our third week, we had 21 pounds of wonderful green beans to sell on a Saturday morning. No one stopped by our tiny stand. In desperation, I drove to a farmer's market in Syracuse to try to sell them. A few hours later I sold all 21 pounds. Alisa and I were so excited and couldn't believe it. We tried other farmers markets around. Some were not so good to us. One, in particular, was a self-proclaimed "local" farmer that was selling uniformly sized produce of red bell peppers, cherries, and other vegetables that were clearly not close to being in season in Utah, even with a greenhouse. With my eyes rolling, and a little digging, it was discovered their "local" was coming from a sister farm in California. Nevertheless, we did find markets close by that we have enjoyed selling at since, with other good working people who love to garden and dream.
In 2012, we decided to try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Our test run had three families. All were pleased with the results and we got feedback to make changes. So, in 2013, we increased to seven families and seventeen in 2014. We aim to please and grow accordingly. This is a democracy in which members can, and are expected to, have a direct say in what they want. We are grateful for all who support us and hope you realize this is hard work, with results we all can enjoy.
My favorite thing at the market is watching someone who has never had a fresh tomato. The tomato is popped in the mouth with indifference, the eyes suddenly widen and a shiver runs up the spine. The hands twitch uncontrollably, aka the "tomato shake", followed by the words, "What did you do to the tomato?"