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268. Snake River Seed Coop | Earthly Delights Farm | Cultivating Success Farm Mentorship Program | Casey O’Leary | Boise, ID
1st February 2019 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:05:08

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Snake River Seed Coop and Earthly Delights Farm

Internship Program

Monday, Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2019

You are going to love her blog Earthly Delights Farm, at but I invited her here because she runs the Snake River Seed Coop  so here’s Casey O’Leary.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m in Boise, ID

I don’t own my own land but I farm on a  3 acre in the city. I farm on about acre and half and share with the landowner who runs a nursery and other farm projects. On our farm we grow about 100 varieties of seed crops for the Snake River Seed Coop  

We also have a CSA program

I have been doing for the last 15 years, spring and summer 18 week CSA 45 members

going a different route, we’re just gonna do a fall CSA pickup. Just one big pickup in the fall of storage crops and instructions on how to store them.

Also, spring garden box shares

for people who have small urban gardens, we’re making 

4×4 garden boxes of seeds and starts

I just want to make sure I am understand, you are actually giving them a 4×4 garden bed with the lumber etc, or just the stuff that goes in them?

No, we’re assuming they already have the boxes and the soil in those boxes

It’s a pretty common thing for Urban gardeners to have some sort of 

4×4 or 4×8 box

just a way to maximize the amount of food they get out of it and use locally grown seeds

Is this your first year offering that?

Yes it’s the very first year

It’s interesting, you had mentioned in starting market farms

I’m in an interesting place because I’ve been running a CSA for 15 years

I am getting to the place where I am burnt out

In the past I have run this massive internship program that is really involved and a CSA with a lot of moving pieces and a serious commitment all season long.

I’ve been wanting a bit of a break, us farmers can’t just take time off in the summer, but just not having to harvest for CSA every single week would feel really nice to me

Trying to provide myself more flexibility this summer and see how that goes

first time

we already grow our own seeds and starts

I’ve gotten decent at doing that and thought it would be offering that to other people

Like the fall CSA, instead of offering harvest and succession plant every week from May-Sept

  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • root storage crops

do the work of growing those on a less rigorous schedule, if I want to take a few days off and go camping, I am not locked into harvesting every week. 

doing this one pickup in the fall

ease my constant need to be on the farm

I might miss it, not know what to with myself.

CSAladies

You have no idea how timely this is, I’m working on this free garden course and a workbook to go with it, as I’m finishing it, every page I’m thinking how to help my listeners get from one-to-done in the easiest way possible that they have started their organic oasis, and at the end of this year being able to enjoy it, and this weekend I wrote a whole page on time commitment.

Realistic Time Commitment

Thinking about what are you really going to be able to do. I told you in the pre-chat I am more the eater then the gardener. I like to go hiking, and I usually have a full time job. So, I was saying in the spring you get fresh rain and water from nature. Those crops are best for people who want to go hiking in summer.

The other part is I’m always telling my husband that I think selling organic starts would be huge. The thing I was excited about was I thought you were selling the boxes because I feel like my listeners frequently say one of their barriers is building the physical beds. And then I really want to get my masters too.

When we start farming,

 I started my farm when I was 24-25 and my farm model has continued in the model of a 24 year old. I turned 40 this year, I need a little more grown up model.

not quite so scrappy, hanging on by the seat of my pants. I don’t own my land and probably for many of your listeners they probably don’t own their own land

When you want to start a farm one of the biggest issues is the access to farmland

Boise is maybe the fastest growing city in the country

We have tons of people moving who have a lot more money then we have in Idaho.

from wealthier places

  • California
  • Bay area
  • Washington

Is that because of the fires? What’s going on in Boise?

  • change
  • quality of life

Also, probably the growing number of people able to work from home over the internet.

Yes, exactly and making the same wages with a lower cost of living, it’s driving up the land prices. I want to say I just read something about Idaho 48th in the country per capita wage for employees for Idaho, so we don’t make much money here.

It’s hard to figure that out

land prices

And because it’s a city there’s a lot of pressure to develop agriculture land into houses you’re not interested in selling to people who could pay the mortgage off of farming that land not anything new

It makes it hard to figure it out where you can have security

kicked off of several pieces and that can make it very difficult.

I was surprised you didn’t own your place.

It’s definitely a scrappy business model.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I do remember there was raspberry patch at our house, it was very

  • unruly
  • full of ear wigs
  • not exactly pleasant but you could get in there and have berries

I got into doing it through environmental activism in college

I spent a lot of time on public land issues. In Idaho, the political landscape is different then my politics are, working on those issues felt like running my head into a brick wall. Someone else was setting the agenda. I felt like I am wasting my time to shut them down.

no, no, no you can’t do it you shouldn’t do that!

I just want to turn and run as fast as I can in the direction in that I want to go and let someone else waste their time trying to shut me down!

reading stuff about CSAs

local food and how valuable it was as an environmental choice

Idk anything! OMGosh! My first gardens were horrible! You’re still so excited! And the more into seed saving too!

Just a lot of mistakes!

Snake River Seeds Corn

learning about I planted hopi blue corn and sweet corn next to each other! 

blue corn in sweet corn

neither is good to eat!

a lot of that in the beginning

but gosh even though there were a lot of mistakes and failures, it’s such a satisfying way to spend my time! I was riding my bike home from some of my gardens I feel like my 12 year old self!

  • best self
  • happy
  • free
  • strong
  • interested

it is a lifestyle commitment

lifestyle change to start gardening

grateful

angsty person before that and it’s led to a really meaningful life.

seeds have bene really useful

roadmap

We have so much in common, when I was in college, I met my husband because I felt like I was banging my head against the wall and my friends said go plant trees, and that’s where I met my husband on a mountain and our goal is to be as self sufficient and local as we can be.

I love your logo of your little bike, do you want to tell us about your sustainable bike part? 

Boise’s a great bike friendly city

I will be honest as I’ve gotten older, biking has not been as much as a crucial part of the farm

10 years we did almost everything by bike

OnionCart.jpg

bike trailers

  • move chickens
  • straw bales
  • manure
  • produce
  • farmer’s market set up
  • tents
  • tables

Everything! We would pedal those around by bike! It was fun!

How far would you go like a block or a couple of miles?

A couple of miles!

I now have one piece of farm only

I always had 2-3 plots of land farming concurrently so we would go between them. In the very beginning they weren’t all in the same neighborhood

3 those three would be within 10 blocks of each other

but now I’m just at one place, it’s 2 miles from my house

I have a dog that is kind of a pain in the neck now, he has to be on a leash when I’m riding with him, he won’t stay next to me. So that’s been annoying to get around by bike

it’s one thing to have myself, but to pull a giant ass cart, I feel like a horse!

more reliant on my little truck

human powered farming

important to never use fossil fuels for stuff we were doing

There’s a tractor on the farm, I don’t own it but I can use it once a year

Maybe to till in a cover crop instead of with a shovel which is really nice. 

I think I double dug an acre 1/2 of land I didn’t own.

That like countless thousands of hours, when we got kicked off those pieces of land, that was horrible!!!

  • older wiser
  • more practical

the true authenticity has suffered in that

I’ve done it for 10 years

EarthlyDelightsFBCvr.jpg

I took a class through the University of Idaho

Cultivating Success

series of classes about this or that about beginning farm.

Certified farmer mentor course

I took it maybe 12 years ago where they taught you how to outline a really good internship so you could share the info that you have in a way that is respectful of people’s time and gives them lots of resources and not like exploited free labor

I ran the internship with woman who I was farming, it ran for 3 years, till we parted ways and then I did it by myself for 7 more years

10 years developed a really rad curriculum! It’s really good.

We go through everything through

  • soil science
  • pollinators
  • seed production
  • vegetable production

a lot of Philosophy!

We read a lot of Wendell Barry

  • permaculture
  • water use

commercial

Try to combine that with hands-on farmwork

We read

  • articles
  • group discussions
  • share lunches
  • field trips
  • guest speakers

really good overview of what a season on a farm looks like. 

We start in March and go through October

2 days a week essentially 5 hours including lunch, class, a few hours in the field

So when they are done

Help with the CSA harvest

plan out a CSA crop if they take good notes the idea is after they

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