Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thoughts on Farm Incubation and the Beauty of Shortened Learning Curves

I think a lot about how we are training farmers. Are we using the most effective methods? There are many options. This week I was struck with some particular benefits to farm incubation. For the past two years, we have had major problems with drainage. Our soil is compacted, clay (that is improving) mixed with really low places and poorly cut drainage ditches. We have had entire fields that have rotted in standing water. These soil conditions, mixed with farmers who are used to growing in low water climates (who tend to plant IN the valleys to maximize water) has been an interesting challenge. This year, we talked with one of the advanced farmers about building raised beds. She really grabbed onto the idea, and worked diligently to build them by hand in her whole plot. Within a week, all of the other farmers started doing the same thing, learning by watching because of the proximity of their plots. The farm looks the best it ever has. The farmers have put hours and hours of energy into building their raised beds and as the rain is coming down today, I am so happy.
It's been a really amazing process for me to watch. Even the new first year farmers have jumped right on board, shortening the learning curve significantly.

Here is Kabibi with her raised beds. She has mulched in walking paths.

This is Ray Nay Paw's plot, a new Karen farmer. Her raised beds are planted with seed.

Besides building beds, another recent activity has been increasing our Nitrogen levels at the farm through organic methods. AKA shoveling chicken poop.

It stinks, but the plants love it.

In the community gardens, the Nepalis have been working hard building beds,
applying compost and seeding.


  1. Great work! Looks good out there.

  2. The beds look terrific, We can't wait for produce!