Last week, we finished the Organic Farm School program and were sent off with a lovely meal made from local ingredients, many of which we grew ourselves.
We learned so much this season at OFS. But, more than anything, we grew our confidence in ourselves, our skills, and our ability to start a small, organic farm in our own community.
Our chosen community
As many of you know, we have chosen the community of Decorah, Iowa to begin our farming careers. We have loved this community for so many reasons—its proximity to family, natural beauty, and support for local vegetable growers, (and craft beer scene) to make a few.
We have also chosen this community so that I could continue my work at Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit heirloom seed company where I will be working to help preserve rare seed varieties and distribute them to gardeners and farmers all over the world. I start next Wednesday, Nov. 10. I can’t wait to tell you more about my job via this newsletter! Expect more farm-specific email updates beginning in March.
This community and this job will also be critical to our success next year as we start our farm. Our land access opportunity is still in the works, but we hope to finalize it over the next month. If we are able to do so, then Ethan will be farming full-time starting next spring. 🤩
We just arrived back in Decorah last night, feeling lucky to have had a safe trip through the mountains. For the next few months, we will be staying in a historic home belonging to our friend Maureen Larson who just retired from Seed Savers.
Our OFS Top 10
Here are some of our favorite moments/aspects of our year at OFS.
1. Transplanting, seeding, and working alongside our classmates
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—we really did have the best class ever! Working together every day (and often hanging out together afterward) made us very close very quickly. Their humor made even the hardest days easier. The field will be so quiet without them. ❤️🩹
2. Farm Fashion Show
This unforgettable event, organized by our classmate and friend Patrick Moote, was the community highlight of the season.
3. Inoculating Lions Mane mushroom logs
Ethan has always dreamed of growing mushrooms and this year we were able to make that a reality! It will still be a year or so until we find out if it worked. The logs will remain at the farm school for future students and staff to tend and enjoy.
4. Cooking together for our class at the Feed & Seed
This year, we made three meals for our classmates. Cooking is a huge driving force behind our desire to farm and sharing meals with others is the ultimate way to celebrate the harvest.
5. Learning to grow flowers and make bouquets
We grew so many flowers this year and already all of us on the little flower crew are dreaming of what we can grow next! Ethan and I hope to incorporate flowers into our crop plan in the future.
6. Will & Kat’s wedding
It’s honestly hard to describe how beautiful and meaningful this wedding was so I will just say that we were beyond honored to witness Will & Kat’s special day.
7. Mushroom hunting
This spring, we found a plethora of oyster mushrooms which we used to make a lovely mushroom broth. The chanterelle evaded us this fall and there are still so many mushrooms we’d like to find. I guess that just gives us another reason to come back and visit the PNW. 😉
8. Learning to drive the tractor
This skill was fun and scary and oh-so-important. We are grateful that OFS gave us the opportunity to try their tractors for ourselves this season.
Between early morning/late night chores and escapee animals, livestock can be a real pain in the butt sometimes. But, at the end of the day, they bring so much life to the farm. (Pictured below is Ethan’s sister Erika on her visit to OFS this summer.)
10. Growing seed crops
This year, we grew quinoa (pictured), tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, cilantro, and beans for seed. Seed growing is such an important part of closing loops on the farm and increasing resiliency. We can’t wait to continue to save seeds into the future.