The Naked HomeFront – Ryan & Genica: EP13 | Show Notes
Andy Chamberlin (00:00:10):
Today’s episode comes to you from Hyde Park, Vermont, where we meet with Ryan Demerast and Genica Breitenbeck. They run two businesses off their farm of less than three acres. Ryan runs Naked Acre Farm and Genica runs a gardening service called Homefront Gardens. Together we sat down as they shared their winding paths into agriculture. They shared the challenges they faced finding access to land and why they decided to settle here in Vermont all while making the decision to purchase by digging through the snow in the middle of winter to take a look at the soil. Ryan and Genica share how they bootstrapped their way to build a sustainable farm business, which is now in their 10th year of farming.
They open up and share how they navigated some stressful seasons of farming and their plans to maintain the current size of their farm and not expand beyond their intensively-managed land that they’re working now. This episode contains two parts of the conversation. The first hour and 20 minutes is a sit-down discussion talking about their farm story, and the remaining 40 minutes of the show features a walking tour of the farm where you can listen to the rain as we walk between the high tunnels and rows of kale.
So first of all, thanks for being on the show and thanks for sharing your story a little bit.
Ryan Demerast (00:01:35):
Thanks for having us.
Andy Chamberlin (00:01:36):
Yeah, we can get started. Just introduce yourselves and where we’re at.
Ryan Demerast (00:01:42):
My name is Ryan Demerast. We are at Naked Acre Farm in Hyde Park, Vermont.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:01:48):
And I’m Genica Breitenbeck, partly of Naked Acre Farm, but mostly of Homefront Gardens. Two separate businesses here.
Andy Chamberlin (00:01:57):
So this place is actually called Naked Homefront, I guess.
Ryan Demerast (00:02:03):
The Naked Homefront. Yeah.
Andy Chamberlin (00:02:06):
So if you could describe your farm or your business in one sentence, what would you say?
Ryan Demerast (00:02:12):
It’s a small scale, diversified, organic vegetable operation, selling to CSA and restaurants and wholesale.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:02:23):
Homefront Gardens would be, I guess, a landscape garden service that’s focused on informed plant care and a focus on soil health and therefore plant health.
Andy Chamberlin (00:02:34):
So, I guess, Ryan, give a little bit of a background as far as growing Acre, or you mentioned wholesale. Tell me a little bit about your markets.
Ryan Demerast (00:02:44):
So I first started just on a half acre and started cold calling restaurants in the area. I was down in Waterbury and I just went into restaurants and said, “I have vegetables. Do you use vegetables? Do you want them and do you want them for me?” And some of those accounts that I started with I still have today, which has been great. So mostly Waterbury, Stowe, Morrisville area, a little bit in Hardwick, but for the most part, restaurants and small markets like Village Market and Commodities in Stowe for retail bags and things like that. So a lot of chefs.
Andy Chamberlin (00:03:32):
Are you working with a distributor or straight to those chefs?
Ryan Demerast (00:03:36):
Straight to the chefs, yep. No, just me in that yellow box truck every week. Used to be a truck. It was a Subaru before that.
Andy Chamberlin (00:03:46):
You started on a half acre. What are you up to now?
Ryan Demerast (00:03:49):
That’s probably around between two and two and a half this year. The last few years it was three, and I tried to scale back a little bit this year for different reasons, but probably under two and a half or right around there at this point this year.
Andy Chamberlin (00:04:07):
And it’s you and how big is your crew?
Ryan Demerast (00:04:11):
Two people part-time, so this is actually only my fourth year with a crew, and two people last year, both part-time. Last year was basically me and one full-time equivalent. This year is basically me and maybe 50 hours or so of two people coming in, helping mostly with wash pack on wash pack days, but then on work days as well. And then I have one employee who’s really great, just phenomenal, natural and never been on a farm and just loves the work natural. And they’re leaving in mid-August, so I will cry a tear in August. So, yeah. Small crew.
Andy Chamberlin (00:05:06):
Are you going to try to find somebody to…
Ryan Demerast (00:05:09):
Yes. Do you know anybody?
Andy Chamberlin (00:05:10):
Ryan Demerast (00:05:12):
I’m looking, definitely. I don’t have a huge social media presence, and I think that that certainly helps with finding employees, but just looking in the typical avenues and just trying to find somebody to replace them when they leave.
Andy Chamberlin (00:05:31):
Let’s just get a little bit of an overview from your business. What types of stuff do you do?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:05:37):
Sure. Well, Homefront Gardens, it primarily started out as just a gardening service. I had worked at a local plant nursery for nine years prior, with a little overlap with the business, but I weaned myself off of working for other people when I started the business officially. But I have a background in architectural design and art, and so working in a spatial environment with gardens has been a really natural fit, though I never worked in an architecture firm and I’ve always worked on outside jobs from Cornell Plant Breeding to organic farm to plant nurseries.
But I imagined myself getting into cut flowers and it just wasn’t sustainable because I had some great gardening clients, but financially, and I didn’t want to give up that aspect of my business to just concentrate on growing cut flowers. So I’ve just whittled it down to some nursery beds, which I grow crops for my own clients and then have some edible flowers for local chefs. So it’s been a really nice fit for the gardening business.
Andy Chamberlin (00:07:07):
It seems unique, the type of business you’re doing. I haven’t really heard of that as a common thing for a flower business.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:07:17):
Yeah, I mean, it’s very small amounts of revenue that I’m making as far as my overall breakdown, but I’m trying to expand probably in the next couple of years with the edible flowers, but doing some family growing at this point instead and just trying to keep my many gardens going with introduction of an employee or two this year.
Andy Chamberlin (00:07:50):
So you haven’t had a crew before now?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:07:53):
No. I’ve had a couple just spot workers here and there doing big installations, and you need someone for a couple days here and there, but it’s really just been me. But I’ve got about 30 regular gardens and it’s a lot of work for one person, especially if you’re pregnant, which is the case this year. So it’s been great to have help and things get done a lot faster.
Ryan Demerast (00:08:31):
We don’t get out much from May to October, September.
Andy Chamberlin (00:08:38):
Not many farmers tend to.
Ryan Demerast (00:08:40):
No, none of us do. Yeah, she’s very busy as well. No, I mean, I guess just from a background, how I got into farming in the first place would be interesting to hear.
Andy Chamberlin (00:08:55):
Absolutely, yeah. What made you decide to be a farmer?
Ryan Demerast (00:08:58):
Thank you. Very good question. So I was a wilderness guy before this, before I started farming, and don’t have any background in growing at all. We didn’t have a garden growing up or anything like that. And my mom, she’s definitely a plant person, but mostly houseplants and things like that, so we didn’t have any growing stuff. But I was a wilderness guy, month off month on in the field with at-risk youth and came to a point I was living out of my Subaru in Oregon during the time. And it came to a point where I just was exhausted with that type of lifestyle and wanted a little more comfort, like a nice bed. And a friend of mine, Mickey, hooked me up with some people that were living on a farm in Oregon outside Corvallis, and so I did an apprenticeship, geez, when I was in my off time. So the apprenticeship was basically May, and then I would be a month in the field, then it would be July.
So I’d see snippets of the farm, but I fell in love with it and decided to come back after working in wilderness in Colorado for a little bit on my way back to Vermont, and then I did the farm training program for six months and started the business after that. A funny thing, I was thinking about this today. I remember when I first met those people at the farm, went over for the first night, she gave me a bowl, and this is a little bit of an embarrassing story. She said, “Can you go out into the greenhouse and cut a salad?” And I walked out to the greenhouse with a bowl and scissors and I was like, “What do I do?” It’s really funny thinking about it now. And then three years later I had a business. So it was a fast trajectory and with very little knowledge. So those first three years were super challenging, learning how to do it well or even bad, learning how to do it at all.
Andy Chamberlin (00:11:10):
So the farm that taught you how to pick a salad. You were only there for a season?
Ryan Demerast (00:11:16):
Not even. Like four months, five months, stuff like that. In different growing, obviously, because it’s Oregon. So like I said, I would see the farm for a month and then I would have a month off because I would be in the woods, in the wilderness. So from an educational standpoint, it wasn’t a good educational experience.
Andy Chamberlin (00:11:36):
You weren’t exposed to the trajectory of the season.
Ryan Demerast (00:11:39):
Andy Chamberlin (00:11:40):
Ryan Demerast (00:11:40):
You’d plan something and then you’d get home and it was already gone and replaced with something else. “Where’d that thing go that we planted a month ago?”
Andy Chamberlin (00:11:48):
What types of things were you doing on this wilderness?
Ryan Demerast (00:11:54):
So actually, I started in Vermont. I don’t know if you’ve heard of True North, they’re down in Waitsfield. That’s originally how I got into it, and I worked for them for a couple of years and then moved out west and did it in Oregon and also in Colorado, but it was basically wilderness therapy. So kids would come with an assortment of whatever, if it was psychological issues or substance abuse problems, things like that, and there was a specific kind of just program that they would work through and learn. And so wilderness being the backdrop for the whole setting, removing distractions, all that so you can focus on the things that you want to change.
Andy Chamberlin (00:12:38):
Ryan Demerast (00:12:39):
Andy Chamberlin (00:12:40):
I’m always curious about career paths or job opportunities. How did you find that? Or what led you into that direction?
Ryan Demerast (00:12:51):
I don’t know. I mean, I’ve always been interested in outdoors activities, hiking and things like that, and backpacking and yeah, I think the woman that I was with at the time found an ad for True North somewhere, I don’t even remember where it was. She’s like, “Oh, you should check this out,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.”
Andy Chamberlin (00:13:12):
Ryan Demerast (00:13:13):
Yeah, it’s outdoorsy. I was in the Peace Corps prior to that, so I was like, I can rough it pretty well. And then I applied and got the job and started there and then moved out. It was a little more rugged in Oregon. The tracks were significantly longer and in way more remote areas, so it was super challenging work. High burnout and kind of similar to what I’m doing now, in that respect anyway. High burnout job. Yeah, it was super rewarding work and very challenging work, and I loved it until I hated it.
Andy Chamberlin (00:13:57):
Do you think that helped you personally as much as it helped the people you were working with?
Ryan Demerast (00:14:04):
I think so. Maybe not as much, but there were definitely certain benefits and rewards to being out in the woods and having super challenging situations with people that obviously did not want to be in the woods, people that had no experience being in the woods and trying to train them. And it was cool, especially in that program in Oregon, you would form essentially a little family for a month and you’d be out in the woods on your own, isolated, and dynamics would come up and there’d be hard times and good times, and it was cool. It was unique.
Andy Chamberlin (00:14:41):
Ryan Demerast (00:14:42):
Andy Chamberlin (00:14:44):
So then you got exposed to this farm and you thought, “This seems kind of interesting.”
Ryan Demerast (00:14:49):
It was essentially the opposite of what I was doing. It was grounded, it was in the soil, it was focused on one specific place. You didn’t have to go anywhere unless you were obviously delivering, but the folks, the friends of my friend Mickey, they were doing their own situation there and they were growing, so I got to learn from them. They were very different growers than the person, Harry, who owned the farm, who was a self-proclaimed cosmological farmer, farmed by the constellations. He was out there. It was really cool.
And so to experience a farm from that perspective, and then also the other people that had their own little greenhouse, and I learned a lot from all those different types of people and just fell in love with the work. And so I knew that I wanted to try and keep going with it and start something. I didn’t know exactly what it was. I was with another person at that point, and we were going to start a life together on a farm situation. And that didn’t work out, obviously, because here we are. But I did continue with that passion of starting a farm. And the farming training program, it was an amazing summer. I learned so much and just further instilled the love of farming and growing vegetables specifically at work.
Andy Chamberlin (00:16:26):
How would you describe that farmer training program? Is it more like on-farm internship or a classroom set? I know it’s not in a classroom, it’s on a farm, but-
Ryan Demerast (00:16:41):
Some of it is in a classroom.
Andy Chamberlin (00:16:42):
Ryan Demerast (00:16:42):
Yeah, it’s a mix of everything. There’s a lot of practical hands-on experience at the hort farm. Also, there’s experiences, I think there’s farm partners. It’s changed pretty dramatically, I think since I was there. Half Pint was a farm, and you’d work there once a day if that was part of your rotation. I think Intervale Community Farm is still a partner there. So you get experiences at other farms, and then there’s the home farm that you would do, and then there were classes, soil education, pest disease management. Verne I think taught a class. And so yeah, we have access to all those folks as well.
Andy Chamberlin (00:17:26):
I’ve heard from several people who have been through that program as I’m working with many young farmers in Vermont. That makes sense.
Ryan Demerast (00:17:38):
Yeah, it was great.
Andy Chamberlin (00:17:42):
So you went through the farmer training program, and then you decided, “Okay, now I’m going to do my own thing.” How did you get started there? Did you have a backyard to start in?
Ryan Demerast (00:17:54):
No, we found… Was it on Craigslist? Yeah. We found somebody who was leasing their land and wanted to have a farming component to the different things that were happening on their property. And so I reached out to them and we were going to live in Waterbury, this person that I was with. It was in Waterbury. We were going to live in Waterbury, and I was just going to commute to the farm. But that winter, 2013, we broke up and so I asked them if I could live on the farm, and that’s the pop-up camper story. So I bought a pop-up that first year, no water, no electricity, just in the camper. That’s when I started on the half acre. And then the next year expanded to an acre. Still in the camper, but was able to put an extension cord into the camper so I had some electricity, which was luxury.
Andy Chamberlin (00:17:54):
Ryan Demerast (00:18:52):
Progress, yeah. And then that lease ended and I met somebody who offered their space, some very more sloped than this land, even up in Waterbury, up the road. And so I moved the operation up there and was there for two years. And that was, I expanded to about an acre and a half there. And then in 2016 we met.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:19:23):
Right, but that was your third year of farming, so your first year at the-
Ryan Demerast (00:19:27):
Yes, that’s true. That’s true. Yeah, it was the first year on that. Yeah, my timeline is messed up. It seems like ages ago. It’s all blurry. But yeah, we met and, geez, I think two weeks after we met, we started looking for a property. Not really talking about that we were looking for property, but we were looking for property together because I think we were ready. We met each other as we were a little older in life, and I remember coming back from that place and driving around and we stopped and looked at this property and we both knew what was happening but weren’t really discussing it, talking about it. So it was a fast trajectory for us as well, I would say. And I guess I could just launch it to the Denny’s story.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:20:17):
Oh yeah, that’s a good one.
Ryan Demerast (00:20:22):
So we looking, we found a spot in Johnson, and it was this 60 acre farm. So there was a piece of property that we were looking at. It was flat. It was about 50 acres of woods, 10 open acres of just flat. It was great. Flat-ish. Flatter than here.
Andy Chamberlin (00:20:41):
Flat for Vermont.
Ryan Demerast (00:20:41):
It was flatter than here for sure. It was definitely. But it was very overpriced. We thought it was, anyway. Well, it was out of our price range, anyway. So I remember… What did we do? He was kind of an old school Vermonter, so we ended up running into somebody that knew him in this supermarket and she gave us the advice of giving him a bottle of Crown Royal and asking him very nicely with an offer. And so I remember we were parked on the road and we wrote this handwritten card, and, “This is our offer. I hope you can respect it. We want to stay on the land and keep it in agriculture production.” And we gave him the bottle and the handwritten card, and I don’t think we ever even heard back, did we?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:21:36):
No, we didn’t give it straight to him. He wasn’t around when we dropped by his office, but that’s okay. It’s in maple production now. It’s perfectly fine that it is.
Ryan Demerast (00:21:52):
We like to think of him… Well, not like to, but we imagine him just laughing at us and laughing at the offer. It was less than half of what he wanted. But anyway, I was still farming in Waterbury, she was living in Morrisville with her business. And three days later, the realtor for that property contacted us and said, “There’s this piece of property for sale that just came on the market, and it had been in the market for three days,” and it was in February. That was in February, remember? And there was snow on the ground. And she called me at 3:00 in the afternoon and was like, “Hey, you want to come look at this piece of property?”
And so I got a shovel and we walked into the woods. There was no driveway here, anything, so you had to walk through the woods to get in here. And we dug the snow up and dug in the soil and checked out the soil, and it was just beautiful. We were like, “Oh, this is awesome. This looks so good.”
Genica Breitenbeck (00:22:50):
It was quite something because you had to descend from the far corner of the field, and it was a mild winter so it was a little misty, but it was all snow-covered and we kept digging hole after hole and seeing this really chocolatey brown, beautiful soil. And we’re like, “Hmm, this is a good sign.”
Ryan Demerast (00:23:14):
And we went back and did the web soil survey, and it’s like the meadow here, you kind of saw it surrounded by woods, it’s kind of like a kidney bean sort of shape. It’s prime ag soil that follows the tree line. It’s this pocket of prime ag soil. And so we put an offer and the soil was primed, the soil looked beautiful, and we put an offer in February.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:23:41):
Yeah, what was interesting is we didn’t know about contingencies in realty offers, and our realtor taught us that we can just say, “Hey, we got to see what the soil test results are, but we would like to put an offer in.”
Ryan Demerast (00:23:59):
Contingent on that.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:24:00):
Yeah. The former owners who were selling it started asking some questions like, “They have a tiny house,” because I had built a tiny house before I met Ryan, thinking it was my best option to buy something for myself so I could start my little gardening nursery business. And so they started asking questions and we just requested to meet the owners, and we brought a pie to that meeting and our business plans, and that made all the difference. And it began our relationship, which we still have with the former owners, which is really incredible. We usually have an annual visit with them. It’s a special thing.
Andy Chamberlin (00:24:53):
Are they still close by?
Ryan Demerast (00:24:55):
Andy Chamberlin (00:24:56):
Ryan Demerast (00:24:58):
I mean, they had some small ag stuff. She told us stories, they used to hay this field with a Buick. And so there’s a big apple tree over here and she said that they would have the rake and they would back the Buick up into the rake into the tree so it would slam into the Buick, and then they would drive it around the field and… I don’t know, I still am trying to picture it, but that’s how they would hay the field around here.
Andy Chamberlin (00:24:58):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:25:24):
Yeah, back in the late ’70s, I think.
Ryan Demerast (00:25:31):
So she really took a liking to us because we wanted to continue this process of having agriculture here on the property. So I mean, we had a USDA loan and that was months and months and months, so it took a lot longer than typical closing would on the property. And so she was really patient with us, and I felt like it was a very special connection to have with this person in our search for land. And like Genica said, it continues to this day. She’s popped in a couple times this summer just to say hi, and she’s great. But that’s all roundabout way of how we got here.
Andy Chamberlin (00:26:17):
What year was that that you ended up purchasing this property?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:26:21):
That was in late July of 2017.
Andy Chamberlin (00:26:24):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:26:25):
And then we were able to move the tiny house here in early December, right before a massive snowstorm. So we got here just in the nick of time.
Ryan Demerast (00:26:39):
Yeah. Yeah, because we were staying down the road at a friend’s house, and that’s where she started building the house.
Andy Chamberlin (00:26:51):
How many years were you trying to find land?
Ryan Demerast (00:26:54):
Oh, six months? Four months?
Andy Chamberlin (00:26:59):
Andy Chamberlin (00:26:59):
Something like that.
Ryan Demerast (00:27:00):
It was quick.
Andy Chamberlin (00:27:01):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:27:01):
Yeah. Together I would say I had been looking for maybe a year and a half. I used to own something with an ex-partner in Jeffersonville, but that was not with any kind of land at all to it. But once you’ve owned something, you don’t want to rent something. You just want to go on your merry way.
Ryan Demerast (00:27:29):
To give you an idea of timeframe, we met in August, put an offer in in February, although the first offer that place in Johnson was in December, I think, and then February, and then we closed in July. So less than a year. We were married within six months, I think, or seven.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:27:29):
Ryan Demerast (00:27:29):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:27:50):
Ryan Demerast (00:27:51):
We met in August, got married in April.
Andy Chamberlin (00:27:54):
So you had land before you were legally…
Ryan Demerast (00:27:57):
No, we legally… That’s another whole thing. So with our USDA loan, there was a more favorable interest rate if we were married. And so we were working with somebody at the office who was pretty matter of fact, straightforward guy, and I remember he told us about the different rates, and I said, “Well, what if we’re together?” He said, “Well, it’s this rate.” And I said, “Well, what if we’re married?” He said, “Well, that would be a better rate.” And so I said, “Can I call you right back?”
And I called Genica and I was like, “Genica, we have to get married today.” Sure enough, we went down to the town hall in Morrisville and got our license and got married, and I called the guy back the next day and I said, “Okay, we’re married now, so can we get that interest rate?” I mean, it’s not the most romantic thing. We did have a very romantic ceremony in August, but yeah, we got married in April, so a few months after we met. Six months.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:28:56):
But the fun part was that I just happened to know someone who was able to legally marry people or officiate weddings. So I texted them and they thought it was a joke at first. They’re like, “Wait, who are you marrying?” Because he’s someone from Jeffersonville, so from the ski community that I’m part of.
Ryan Demerast (00:29:18):
That’s right. Yeah. That was at the tavern.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:29:21):
We got married in the village tavern in Jeffersonville, and half the people at the bar knew me.
Ryan Demerast (00:29:27):
Yeah, Tony was there.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:29:28):
Didn’t know Ryan at all. They were just like, “Wow, Genica just got married.”
Andy Chamberlin (00:29:28):
Ryan Demerast (00:29:28):
It was great.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:29:36):
It was quite celebratory.
Ryan Demerast (00:29:37):
It was awesome. Yeah. Then all he wanted in payment was a shot at Jameson and a Budweiser.
Andy Chamberlin (00:29:44):
Ryan Demerast (00:29:45):
Yeah, it was awesome. That was a really good day.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:29:47):
Yeah, that was. That was great.
Andy Chamberlin (00:29:50):
No, I was just thinking about one of the struggles for new farmers now is just trying to find land, trying to get access to land, and it sounds like you were able to find a good option relatively quickly in your situation, thankfully.
Ryan Demerast (00:30:05):
Yeah, I think that story of digging in the snow, I wish that… We obviously didn’t see all the rocks, so that was not great. I mean, the land is productive and we feel very fortunate. And I can’t even imagine what it would be like now, especially post-COVID when prices spiked significantly for land around here especially. So it seemed to be really the very right timing. So we feel fortunate for that.
The other thing was neither one of us had a ton of savings. I would put it all back into the farm and Genica put it into the house that she was building. So luckily for us, the lending that we had was great. I mean, we were able to finance 90% of the property, essentially. 95, I think it was. So that was very helpful, obviously.
Andy Chamberlin (00:31:08):
Was that a very difficult decision, obviously, taking on that much debt? Or was it more of a no-brainer because this is the direction you’re headed and you need the land?
Ryan Demerast (00:31:19):
I mean, I’ll let you speak to it, but for me it was a no-brainer because we didn’t really have any other option anyway. I knew that I had encountered all the pitfalls of leasing ag land, and partly I am at fault for that. I’m not good at leasing, I don’t think. There’s things that I want to do, and I want to be able to have free rein on the land. And so I think leasing was getting tiring and I think it was just the best option that we had. I mean, it’s expensive, but there was nothing here, so it wasn’t like there was a house here that we were also paying the mortgage. It was raw land with no driveway.
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:32:04]
Ryan Demerast (00:32:00):
Sierra that we were also paying in the mortgage. It was raw land with no driveway, no water, no electric, nothing. The first few, I don’t even know how long. How long was it that we were just driving through the woods to get into the property? There was an old logging road that we, obviously, made it better by driving down, but it was really challenging even just getting in here when we first got here. Then I was in farming in Waterbury, living in Morrisville, getting this place set up, too. It was, that first year was pretty crazy.
Andy Chamberlin (00:32:32):
Yeah. Let’s see. Waterbury is about an hour?
Ryan Demerast (00:32:35):
No, like a half hour.
Andy Chamberlin (00:32:38):
Ryan Demerast (00:32:38):
Andy Chamberlin (00:32:39):
Right. This side of the mountain.
Ryan Demerast (00:32:40):
Andy Chamberlin (00:32:41):
But still, there’s a commute between living and working and setting up new land.
Ryan Demerast (00:32:45):
Yeah. You forget to close the greenhouse door or open it, or, that’s always stressful. It was stressful that year for doing that, but yeah, and then we just slowly built it up here and got electric in here. I remember those first couple years, or at least the first year, the whole farm was run on four outlets, including the house.
Andy Chamberlin (00:33:09):
Tied to the grid.
Ryan Demerast (00:33:10):
Cut that out. Yeah, it’s tied to the grid.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:33:10):
Ryan Demerast (00:33:13):
Yeah, we brought it down and yeah.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:33:16):
That was just off a temporary electrical
Andy Chamberlin (00:33:20):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:33:20):
Drop, yeah, essentially. We only had a partially made driveway by hunting season, and then it dumped… We did get the tiny house down here somehow, it was a miracle, I think. The next day, I think it snowed about a foot of snow and we’re like, “Okay, we’re here. We’ve got no water, but we do have electric,” which was great.
Ryan Demerast (00:33:51):
Yeah, we didn’t have water for a little while.
Andy Chamberlin (00:33:56):
Were you just hauling it in?
Ryan Demerast (00:33:59):
Andy Chamberlin (00:34:00):
What was your source? Where were you getting it?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:34:03):
From our friend’s house.
Ryan Demerast (00:34:04):
The well where we were living, and we got some maple totes and I would just go and fill it up and bring it here. We had this pump shallow well pump situation that I set up, and it worked for watering the ceilings in the spring. The ceilings were treated way better than the growers, I would say, that first spring. But then we were like, :What’s wrong with us? We got to just get a well,” we did. Yeah, luckily the well was able to be, there was some clause or some part of our mortgage that we were able to wrap it into our mortgage so we didn’t have to pay for it right up front, which is great.
Andy Chamberlin (00:34:49):
Yeah, that’s good.
Ryan Demerast (00:34:50):
We’ll pay for it for 30 years. Since that’s… Yeah, it probably will cost three times what it was by the end or something.
Andy Chamberlin (00:34:58):
Right, yeah. You’ll pay more for it in the long run, but yeah, you didn’t need to front that.
Ryan Demerast (00:35:03):
Andy Chamberlin (00:35:05):
Genica, give me a little bit about how you got into the ag space.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:35:11):
I think it probably started back over a summer job. I happened to go to school in Geneva, New York, which of course, there’s a wonderful experimental station there with the New York State AG Extension. I wish I had been more involved back then, because I would’ve really loved to check out all the apple trees there. But I had friends down at Cornell, which was only an hour drive, and ended up living down in Ithaca for a summer. I worked at Cornell Plant Breeding and with the alfalfa program, and got to see some long-term, just plant breeding in the old-fashioned way. There was one professor who was retired, but he had been working from a post-grad student in 1948 to what, that would’ve been, 2004 or something.
That was really cool to think about that longevity and vision, and it started to push me in that direction a little bit more. The following year, I worked at a Blue Heron farm in Lodi, New York, halfway between Geneva and Ithaca. That was like 12 acre production with permanent beds. I still reference things that I learned there from Blue and Robin, so that was the real first thought that I had, “Oh, seasonal life. What is this? I don’t have to become an architect just because I’m studying this right now.”
But after college, I did end up working in nonprofit housing for a couple of years as an AmeriCorps vista, and then in the Hudson River Valley. I happened to date someone who was involved in small organic farming, diversified farming. There was always this connection to food and where it’s coming from. I don’t think I knew very much really back then, but there was definitely this thread starting. I guess I moved to Vermont in 2008 after working with Habitat Newburgh for a couple of years. Then I just started random jobs such as waitressing. Then when that ended, I moved to a local nursery in Morrisville, and it was a good fit. I had lots of time for recreating and doing other just adventuring, but it was definitely really insightful to just work for people who had been in business maybe 30 years or so when I worked for them.
They had some solid systems down and they had very specific methods that they used and management styles. I feel like I learned just a lot about running a business, even if it was maybe what I wouldn’t want to do or things that I would try to commit towards in a different way. I had a huge… I met so many people working at that nursery, that it’s probably where I met maybe one of my first couple clients who just really were like, “Well, do you do any work?” That was the beginning of some just side work. That gradually led me to thinking about, “Well, maybe it’s time for me to cut the cord and go out on my own and just go for it.” But I had this side vision of growing heirloom bulbs, and a lot of the nursery owners in the area were of an age where they’d be retiring soon.
I thought, “Oh, maybe I could run a nursery,” a lot of thoughts going around, but nothing too solid. But the gardening, once I started working with that, I loved the digging into soil health and really focusing on ecological based design, which is where I would say my niche is not just trying to… I’m not a mulch tosser just to get it done and be done with it and move on. There’s plenty of people out there doing that kind of work and really looking at long-term relationships with the landscape, the people who are living or working with the spaces and going from there.
Andy Chamberlin (00:40:23):
Interesting. Are the gardens that you manage edible gardens or perennial, hands-off just maintenance gardens or gardens where you’re putting in a bunch of annual things, too?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:40:37):
Yeah, I would say it’s a mix. I feel like there’s a growing number of clients who really enjoy that edible landscape, and I’d say maybe 20% of my folks really getting in their gardens and working, maybe… A bunch of them just focus on their veggies and stuff. I might offer a little bit of advice in that realm once in a while or help out.
Andy Chamberlin (00:41:08):
Do you set it up for them?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:41:09):
Yeah, sometimes, and some people are just, they’ve been doing it for decades, so they’re on a roll and we’ll talk shop a little bit. Then when I mentioned Ryan’s hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes, they get a kick out of that. But yeah, mostly I am doing the ornamental side of it, but I try to encourage people to include edible landscaping, so whether that’s throwing some extra starts in the garden somewhere or just having pollinators and bird health, and it’s really just about the ecosystem creation and trying to get it rolling to a place where I’m not running around watering and almost no one really waters their gardens, even if we haven’t had rain for weeks on end. I’ve seen really good success with some of my practices of just… It’s like no-till farming in a way, but using the actual cuttings off the deadheading, I’ll just stick right back in the ground, let it decompose. I’ve seen some amazing results over the last number of years at places I’ve been for seven or eight years now. Yeah.
Andy Chamberlin (00:42:36):
Residential, commercial, both?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:42:37):
Andy Chamberlin (00:42:38):
Yeah. What fulfills you in this career?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:42:41):
Probably I would say certainly the visual accomplishment, seeing beautiful spaces take shape and having my clients really appreciate them is really wonderful. I like talking to my clients, too, and getting to know them. I think there’s, having that community is really important and those connections. I think that’s probably one of the most fulfilling, knowing the satisfaction that people get out of those spaces, even some of the commercial ones. I’ve got one restaurant and people know me from that garden and really enjoy the space that’s been created there. Or I’ll throw tomato plants in at a business and then the workers can just be like, “Oh, I’m going to take some tomatoes home today.” That’s great. That just gets people more interactive in these spaces that are normally just a backdrop, which I really like.
Andy Chamberlin (00:43:50):
Ryan, what fulfills you?
Ryan Demerast (00:43:56):
I guess I would say first and foremost, the work itself, that feeling at the end of a really long, hard day or a long, hard week, which they all are. Yeah, it’s really satisfying. I think the relationships, too. Some of the people that I’ve met and come into contact, and chefs, and people that I’ve worked with, other farmers and all the different people. I think just eating really good, delicious food that’s super fulfilling. Seeing that, seeing really good food come out of the field and starting from a seed and then having this beautiful plant that you can eat is very fulfilling.
Andy Chamberlin (00:44:54):
Do you get to eat your crops a lot? I know a lot of farmers who grow this great organic veg and they’re eating mac and cheese for lunch.
Ryan Demerast (00:45:03):
We eat tons of mac and cheese. I’d say it’s more frozen pizza, lots of frozen pizza, Chinese food every once in a while. But yeah, no, we do lots of salads and stuff, and when the tomatoes come in, I’ll eat tomatoes, but just quick and easy stuff. Stuff you can throw on a plate or steam really quickly or something like that.
Andy Chamberlin (00:45:25):
But before having you on the show, you mentioned that you’ve now been farming for 10 years, which to me is an indicator of success or being sustainable, because if it wasn’t working 10 years in, you’re not going to keep doing it unless you have some outside funding. This is just a fun hobby, as sustainable. What does sustainable mean to you, and what’s a time that you felt really successful in this?
Ryan Demerast (00:46:01):
Well, I think every year is in the different iterations of my business, has seen some growth financially and obviously just in the land itself and plant health. It feels like there’s always been just small or large improvements over the years. I think overall this year, I remember I had the fortune and pleasure to work with Richard Whizball a little bit. Was it last year or two years ago? It was just great. I remember him saying something about year 10, there’s a shift. I am feeling that this year, and I think so far this year, I feel just with the relationships that I’ve created since the beginning and they feel really solid and a lot of the thinking about moving in different directions with soil health and the plant health’s really good.
I just feel really good this year, and it’s taken me 10 years to really think, “Oh, okay, I might actually be good at this.” Do you know what I mean? It’s taken that long to really feel successful in certain ways, and it’s still hard to sometimes, walking around and seeing the tomatoes the way they were. There’s some that aren’t strung up or there’s pieces of grass, that’s hard, but it’s not as hard as it used to be. It just is what it is here, I guess.
Andy Chamberlin (00:47:40):
I’ve interviewed several people that have said between years seven and 10, they really start to feel like they will say, have a grasp or the flywheel is spinning. Do you think that’s the repetition of the season? Do you think it’s the incremental growth and infrastructure, your own knowledge, all the above, right?
Ryan Demerast (00:48:02):
Yeah, I think so. I was thinking about that this year actually. It’s like I have experienced significant stress over the years. We all have every grower, but a lot of the stress I feel like I’ve experienced has been my own just thoughts and my own interpersonal stuff and was often completely unnecessary. But I thinking about, basically, your question, I think what it is this year is it’s a predictability. It’s like, “Oh yeah, I know those weeds are going to come during this month,” or “This pest is going to show up now.” It’s like whether I prepare for it or not, I know it’s going to happen. There isn’t as much surprise like, “Holy crap, what is this thing that’s mowing down all the arugula?” It’s like, “Oh, well, you didn’t cover it, idiot.” You know what I mean? Yeah. There’s just predictability, I think, which is super helpful in feeling successful.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:49:01):
I think, too, there might be a level of confidence in decision-making, making some bigger long-term shifts that will get you to a place where you’re really confident or feel like you’re just making a decision about your business, but not basing it off of what a particular market might think or react to. I can see that as a third person to your business.
Ryan Demerast (00:49:36):
Andy Chamberlin (00:49:37):
It’s more of an educated guess and a little less of a gamble, as you’ve seen success and failure, like you said, through the seasons.
Ryan Demerast (00:49:46):
Yeah. The other thing was that I think the reason why it took too long too, is because I’m becoming more and more familiar with this specific location. We’ve been here five years now, but I’ve been at three locations. All those years of familiarity and understanding the nuances of a field or I have a farm, I’ve had to start over several times. I think just now having this relationship and bond with the soil here and the way that things work and the seasonal changes, that’s really helpful too, making decisions and just feeling confident.
Andy Chamberlin (00:50:22):
Yeah, that’s a good point. Knowing the land, knowing where water’s going to run-
Ryan Demerast (00:50:27):
Yeah, it takes a lot.
Andy Chamberlin (00:50:27):
In the next heavy rain and knowing where it’s cool in the spring, those little pockets or where the sun comes around, “Oh, that bed’s going to be shadowed a little longer.” You don’t know that stuff right off the bat.
Ryan Demerast (00:50:41):
No. It’s just a relationship. It’s just about creating. It’s a marriage, essentially, and you’re learning and growing with this place.
Andy Chamberlin (00:50:53):
You mentioned early on that the farm in Oregon was different, growing out there was different. What’s a couple of just high level things that’s different than growing in Vermont?
Ryan Demerast (00:51:03):
The climate, first and foremost. That area in the Willamette Valley gets nine months of drizzle, essentially like cloudy, drizzle and rain. Then it’s all summer long, you never see a cloud. It’s just like, I mean, there might be clouds, but it’s sunny every day, super dry, hot, cold nights, and then just rain all winter. It’s wild. Obviously, that, but you can grow year round significantly easier, even without the direct sunlight you can continue… Even in the winter, I think the lows in the Willamette Valley are the thirties, and you don’t see much snow. That’s a big difference when it’s negative 25.
Andy Chamberlin (00:51:50):
A little more consistent.
Ryan Demerast (00:51:53):
Andy Chamberlin (00:51:54):
Ryan Demerast (00:51:54):
Yeah, consistent drizzle.
Yeah, it was bad. It was great. You keep going through it. You just live your life. You ride your bike to work, and you just get a good rain suit, and that’s what you do,
Andy Chamberlin (00:52:07):
Dress for the weather. What made you decide to come to Vermont and settle here?
Ryan Demerast (00:52:17):
Well, I think probably the most important thing is my family. I’m really close with my family, and I wouldn’t necessarily… I love you guys, but I don’t want to live in my hometown. Vermont’s a happy medium, and I went to college here, and so I have a connection to the state, and it’s close to me and her family. Being out west, it’s too far. My sister had a couple kids, and so I had nephews that I wanted to be around and that kind of thing. Just a familiarity with New England, so I love it here, it’s so good.
Andy Chamberlin (00:53:10):
Genica, are you from around here?
Genica Breitenbeck (00:53:12):
I’m from Pennsylvania, and I randomly moved here. My sister-in-Law was working for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps one summer, right before she and my brother married the year before, and she said, “You need a change in life. I think you’d like Vermont. There’s people with old time skills,” which is right up my alley and doing music and just a bunch of stuff. She said, “Why don’t you come visit?” I moved up two weeks later, I dropped off some applications. I was like, “I’ll be a waitress.” Yep. It was quite a bold move, but it has worked out very well in the end. Yeah.
Andy Chamberlin (00:54:00):
Okay. We talked about a little bit on feeling successful, getting that flywheel spinning. What’s a time when you felt really challenged farming?
Ryan Demerast (00:54:13):
Well, the easy answer is every day. Obviously, there’s different things to deal with, but I think those first few years were super challenging. I literally didn’t know what I was doing. I had no… I had the farmer training program six months under my belt, and that’s all I had. It was really challenging in that respect. But I think 2020 was it? Was-
Genica Breitenbeck (00:54:48):
Ryan Demerast (00:54:49):
2021 was just a super challenging year for me, and I don’t even know why, because the business was fine. People were happy with the produce, and I just was dealing with a lot of stress. Stress, not sleeping, and just really having some issues with mental health and, I guess that was probably the most challenging time, wouldn’t you say? Probably for you, too.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:55:24):
Ryan Demerast (00:55:25):
Genica Breitenbeck (00:55:26):
Ryan Demerast (00:55:29):
Yeah, and I don’t even really remember why. Things were weedy and there was disease and pest issues, and I just was too hard on myself, I guess. It was just really challenging in the moment because, I guess, I just always felt like the business was just going to close, just stop because there was grass in one bed or something. You know what I mean?
Andy Chamberlin (00:56:00):
You were hyper focused.
Ryan Demerast (00:56:02):
Andy Chamberlin (00:56:02):
Yeah. I know the feeling. Yeah. You’re so far in the weeds. That’s all you can think about, and you lose sight of the big picture a little bit.
Ryan Demerast (00:56:13):
Andy Chamberlin (00:56:14):
Because literally in it. How did you handle that stress, and what changes did you make to get out of that slump?
Ryan Demerast (00:56:27):
You might have to help me a little bit, but I started-
Andy Chamberlin (00:56:31):
Assuming you’re better now.
Ryan Demerast (00:56:33):
Yeah, I’m much better. I’m better. I’m still in it. Yeah, I’m much better. This has been absolutely so far, knock on wood, I don’t want to jinx myself here, but this has been my absolute favorite year of growing, for sure, just mentally and just the state of the field. Yeah, so I am very happy this year. I think what I did that time was I started a meditation practice, which I had dabbled in in years previous, in yoga. I’m not certified teacher. I did a lot of yoga in the past, but farming pulled me absolutely away from that, probably when I needed it the most. I just stopped doing it, so I reinvigorated that practice and tried to drink less. What else was it? Breathing exercises, things like that, reading books, Jon Kabat-Zinn helped a lot, exercise.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:57:40):
I was going to say, I don’t know if you want to mention Farm First at all, but you did call them.
Ryan Demerast (00:57:44):
[NEW_PARAGRAPH]Yeah, I did. That’s great.
Yeah, I used Farm First and I ended up having, I only had two phone calls, but they were really helpful phone calls. Then, oh, yeah, and I actually did therapy. That’s right. I had therapy for, I forgot about that.
Genica Breitenbeck (00:58:01):
You blocked it out.
Ryan Demerast (00:58:04):
Andy Chamberlin (00:58:05):
Yoga and breathing, but “Oh, right, therapy, too.”
Ryan Demerast (00:58:09):
Yeah, I did it, too. Farm First was really incredibly helpful for that. I think I ended up with, it was six or maybe eight sessions or something, and it was all on Zoom or whatever, and they were great, super helpful. As a result, now there’s a new program, it’s the peer support program. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. They presented at VVBGA, so I’m actually a peer support person now for folks that are maybe in a similar situation that might want to reach out to somebody. The program is basically, there’s people all over the state that have decided to volunteer their time, and there’s pictures up on the website, and basically you contact Farm First and they’ll reach out to these people and you can talk to somebody else who may have gone through something, another grower or farmer, and just connect with somebody who may have some understanding, because you know what it’s like.
It’s so specific, it’s unique. It’s hard for people to understand what we might be going through in a given moment. Yeah, Farm First.
Andy Chamberlin (00:59:22):
That’s awesome. Are those sessions just like a venting session with another grower?
Ryan Demerast (00:59:29):
I don’t know. It’s a new program, so there hasn’t been a ton of… I’m presently working with somebody, but we’re finding a hard time to connect, but I imagine it could be whatever the person needs. It can be a venting session. It can be just a crying session, or it could be like, “Hey, have you ever experienced this? Tell me about your experience.” It could be probably whatever somebody needs.
Andy Chamberlin (00:59:56):
I’m just trying to think. Farming is stressful. We all know that. I think a lot of us don’t want to ask for help.
Ryan Demerast (01:00:08):
Andy Chamberlin (01:00:09):
They don’t want to ask their spouse for help. They want to handle it themselves.
Ryan Demerast (01:00:12):
Andy Chamberlin (01:00:14):
What do you think would be the trigger to reach out to Farm First or an organization like that, and what would one expect when they pick up the phone?
Ryan Demerast (01:00:27):
I don’t know. I think everybody’s different. For me, it was just like, “I can’t handle this anymore.” Poor Genica, I was like, “She can’t handle this anymore,” and so it was just like, “I got to talk to somebody else.” You have to be vulnerable. You have to let go of that trait of being like, “I can just get through this by myself.” I think that, yeah, it’s just… I think not being able to manage something on your own is the catalyst, I think. To answer your other question, it was, what is it going to be like or…
Andy Chamberlin (01:01:07):
Yeah, what would one expect when you pick up the other end of the phone?
Ryan Demerast (01:01:12):
Yeah. Did you want to say something first?
Genica Breitenbeck (01:01:16):
I was going to say, I think I may have mentioned Farm First as maybe that’s someone you can reach out to as just a… We see it always listed, and I think a lot of… I bet I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people, at least if a family member has exposure to what Farm First is, that they can just be like, “It’s still in your hands, but there is this resource out there that you might be able to get some help from.”
Ryan Demerast (01:01:47):
Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s just the folks that are working there and obviously the peer farmers that are part of the program, just I think it’s empathy would be the first thing. Just a connection and this solidarity, I guess, of knowing what somebody might be going through with farm related stress, specifically.
Andy Chamberlin (01:02:14):
Right. Being a peer-to-peer network, that there’s an understanding that you couldn’t share with another family or friend that doesn’t know everything that’s going on. They don’t know the weeds. What does that weed and or pest mean to you? My buddy isn’t going to know that.
Ryan Demerast (01:02:37):
Andy Chamberlin (01:02:38):
But yeah, another farmer would.
Ryan Demerast (01:02:40):
It’s great. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I just wish I had more time for it, too. It’s a busy time of year.
Andy Chamberlin (01:02:53):
Is a commitment that you sign up for? You said you wish you had more time for it. Are you turning down opportunities, or what do you mean by that?
Ryan Demerast (01:03:03):
No, just that there’s a finite amount of time and energy and… Yeah.
Andy Chamberlin (01:03:13):
You wish you could help more?
Ryan Demerast (01:03:14):
Andy Chamberlin (01:03:15):
Ryan Demerast (01:03:15):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:03:18):
Well, I think it’s the scheduling. It’s like dealing with two farmers, so it’s like, “Well, that person can reach out at 5:30 in the morning, but maybe you’re harvesting vegetables at 5: 30 in the morning.”
Andy Chamberlin (01:03:30):
Yeah, I see.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:03:32):
It’s a scheduling thing.
Andy Chamberlin (01:03:34):
What are you excited about in your next year of farming?
Ryan Demerast (01:03:39):
Well, so like I said before, I feel like I have a grasp on this, at least here, and what my own limitations are and strengths. I think that’s just in time because we are going to have a child in…
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [01:04:04]
Ryan Demerast (01:04:00):
Because we’re going to have a child in mid-August, I think, yeah, next year is going to present its own new, very new challenges. So, I feel like I am happy to have a year of confidence under my belt to move into the next year. I think, as a result of having a child and starting a new family, I think I’ll need to make some changes to the business, which I’m still mulling over right now. And just reducing crops or having more people in the crew, which I’m not super psyched about, not too keen on having more people here, but it might be a way to, obviously, have a different life.
[NEW_PARAGRAPH]And then, I think, just as I’ve become more familiar with the business, in knowing how to change things in order to have a little more free time, and I think that’s something I’m looking forward to and continuing to work with soil health and weed management and trying to discover ways to have two-prong attacks or, I don’t like that word, but efficiencies to deal with both of those things, like maintaining soil health, contributing to soil health, and reducing weeds here on the farm. Yeah, and increasing production based on that. So, those are some big things, I would say.
Andy Chamberlin (01:04:00):
Ryan Demerast (01:05:43):
Andy Chamberlin (01:05:43):
Well, congrats. That’s definitely exciting.
Ryan Demerast (01:05:47):
Andy Chamberlin (01:05:47):
Ryan Demerast (01:05:48):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:05:48):
Ryan Demerast (01:05:49):
August, mid-August is not the best time, but it is a time.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:05:55):
It’s good for my business, which is good. I think I’ll be able to work with my little crew on cutback then, and guide that process, which is usually October-ish.
Ryan Demerast (01:06:09):
Yeah. One of my employees is leaving, I think, on the same day, the due date. They’re going back to college.
Andy Chamberlin (01:06:19):
Things will change.
Ryan Demerast (01:06:20):
Things change very drastically and quickly. So, I’d better start those breathing exercises again, I guess.
Andy Chamberlin (01:06:27):
That’s right. You’ve got to take care of yourself. Is there other things that either of you have implemented on a regular basis to keep you levelheaded?
Ryan Demerast (01:06:44):
I mean, I had a meditation practice for, probably, a couple of years, and that has not continued this year. I find that when I’m feeling good, those practices go by the wayside-
Andy Chamberlin (01:06:58):
Ryan Demerast (01:06:59):
… I feel like a little bit. But I don’t know.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:07:05):
I guess I’ve been working with, not a physical therapist, but a body worker. It’s a type of massage, just knowing how my body’s changing and, in my mind, I’m going to work up until I have a baby, but I’m realizing that’s not likely to happen. I need to start maternity leave probably sooner than that. But I’m still going strong, at this point. But I think, even, I took an art class last fall just doing something creative, and that’s totally just fun. It was really great to have that in the fall time, and I think it offered a lot of relaxation and just being creative in a way that I don’t have to commodify it. I can just do it for myself, and that was really great.
But I think as just conversations with other parents, other farm parents, making sure that we have those times where we can prioritize our own self as humans in the world, besides just being parents, I think that’s a priority for us. And so, we’ve been trying to vaguely strategize, knowing that we have to meet this new human before we can really know how we’re going to need to use those alone times, and perhaps, someday, couple time probably.
Andy Chamberlin (01:08:51):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:08:52):
But I think that’ll all be part of the learning curve of parenthood. And as business owners, I think.
Ryan Demerast (01:09:01):
Yeah. I think this year, too, it’s been a more consistent schedule or adhering to a consistency in the schedule. And, like we talked about earlier, having the busy week and then being able to have these days. Even though we’re still working, they’re not necessarily days off, but just having consistency there with slower times, I think, is something that has helped this year. I think more, to answer your question, of having a thing that we do, I guess it’s having a consistent schedule. That’s something I do.
Andy Chamberlin (01:09:41):
Do you turn off at a certain time?
Ryan Demerast (01:09:44):
It depends on the day.
Andy Chamberlin (01:09:46):
You got some side eye there.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:09:46):
I don’t know. We-
Ryan Demerast (01:09:46):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:09:46):
Ryan Demerast (01:09:46):
When I sleep.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:09:46):
Ryan Demerast (01:09:56):
I’m sleeping so good this year, to knock on wood there. I haven’t slept this good in, maybe, ever my life. So, yeah, that’s when it’s off, I guess.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:10:03):
We still eat dinner at 10 o’clock at night, usually-
Ryan Demerast (01:10:05):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:10:05):
… which isn’t great.
Ryan Demerast (01:10:06):
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:07):
‘Tis the season.
Ryan Demerast (01:10:07):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:10:07):
Ryan Demerast (01:10:07):
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:07):
Ryan Demerast (01:10:07):
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:11):
Yeah, sleep helps a lot. Good sleep is important.
Ryan Demerast (01:10:13):
Yeah. I think when I’ve been away, in years past, if we’d go down to Tuesday night live, which is a thing in Johnson, I wouldn’t be able to detach and have a good time. I’d still just be so focused. And I think, this year, I’ve been able to disconnect, so that’s helpful, I’d say. Yeah. And be able to just enjoy the moment that I’m in.
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:37):
I think, to loop back, I think that probably comes with the experience of doing this. You know the tomatoes will be okay tonight-
Ryan Demerast (01:10:46):
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:46):
… and they’ll make it till tomorrow.
Ryan Demerast (01:10:49):
Yeah, yeah. The first year, it’s like, “They’re all going to die-“
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:49):
Ryan Demerast (01:10:52):
“… when it gets dark.” Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good point.
Andy Chamberlin (01:10:57):
What did you envision your farm would look like when you started? Did you have a goal or a vision with what you wanted it to be?
Ryan Demerast (01:11:08):
No, not that I can remember. I think it was different because, when I first started, I was thinking about the farm with this other person that I was with. So, I think vegetables for the most part. I didn’t really ever foresee having animals, like livestock animals. Yeah, I guess it’s this.
Andy Chamberlin (01:11:37):
I know, initially, you went to restaurants and say, “I have this available.” Did you, then, ask them what they wanted? Or has it always been just like, “Hey, here’s my options?”
Ryan Demerast (01:11:47):
Yes. Afterwards, in creating those relationships with chefs, I sit down with some of them every year, and they talk about what they want to grow or what they want to have on their menus or when they change their menus to the summer thing, they say, “This is what we’re going to have.” And so, initially, yeah, I was like, “I like to eat that, so I’m going to grow it.” I didn’t have any markets at all, which was the exact opposite advice I got from a mentor that I worked with. They were like, “Don’t grow anything unless you have the market for it,” and I did the opposite of that.
[NEW_PARAGRAPH]But, yeah, I would say, “I have a arugula. Do you use arugula? Do you want that?” So, yeah. But then, over times, I’ve shifted. I mean, there’s things that I didn’t even know existed that I grow now consistently because a high-end restaurant uses it as a main ingredient in a salad, or something like that. So, I’ve learned a lot through the experience of those chefs that are constantly refining and perfectionists and things like that. And I think there’s a lot of crossover between growers and chefs, and that’s why I like working with them so much.
Andy Chamberlin (01:12:57):
Have you found the chefs to be pretty knowledgeable as far as regionally grown food or available crops? Or have you been like, “Yeah, we can’t grow that here?”
Ryan Demerast (01:13:09):
It depends. It depends on the chef, for sure. Yeah. Geez, I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus.
Andy Chamberlin (01:13:17):
No okra or oranges coming out of Vermont.
Ryan Demerast (01:13:19):
Yeah, no, no. No one’s asked for papaya, or anything like that. But I think, sometimes, some of the timing. Chefs, in April, they might be like, “When are the tomatoes going to be ready?” I don’t heat any of the houses for the tomatoes. And it’s like, “I haven’t even planted those yet.” So, there’s that understanding. But a lot of chefs that are willing to work with farms in the area, they understand that the nuances of the season, the short season, and what will be available. And there’s a few chefs that are coming to mind, specifically, that I’ve just really absolutely loved working with, and they’ve just been flexible and they’ve just helped me have a business, I guess. They were willing to take a chance, and I still work with them to this day.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:14:18):
Yeah, and I think some of those more thoughtful chefs, they’re preserving when they can or making, processing, whether that’s making different oils that they’re going to flavor something with, in the fall or winter when it’s available in the summer. And it’s really great. Or preserving tomatoes. We know a couple of chefs that do that-
Ryan Demerast (01:14:41):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:14:42):
… so that they can have a consistent quality year round. And that’s such a great insight to know that folks are doing that.
Andy Chamberlin (01:14:52):
That’s awesome that chefs are taking the initiative to preserve-
Ryan Demerast (01:14:56):
Andy Chamberlin (01:14:56):
… some of those things. What do you think the future of your farm looks like? Do you envision it changing much?
Ryan Demerast (01:15:05):
Yes, I think so. But, I mean, because, obviously, you can see we’re still absolutely in the development stage here of trying to get things up off the ground. And as money frees up from some of these main infrastructure projects, yeah, I’d like to invest in some different things and different types of technologies. I’d really like to scale back a little bit. I mean, honestly, I would love to just put that whole field in just one big glass bubble. That’s what I would love to do, and just have it all enclosed. But the land doesn’t offer that flatness up here. But I think some markets will change, and I think that what I grow will shift a little bit over the next few years, I think. And I think a lot of the decisions that I make moving forward is going to be determined by this little child that’s-
Andy Chamberlin (01:16:11):
Ryan Demerast (01:16:12):
… coming in August. It’s a total crapshoot.
Andy Chamberlin (01:16:17):
Right, right. Yeah, your farm’s 100% going to evolve. But you’re not building an orchard or growing grains, and you’re staying small scale vegetables.
Ryan Demerast (01:16:28):
Yeah. Well, the other thing is we’re limited by the landscape, as well.
Andy Chamberlin (01:16:32):
Ryan Demerast (01:16:32):
So, I couldn’t possibly grow more than five acres, maybe, at the most, unless I start cutting down trees. And I’m not going to get into that. I don’t want to do that.
Andy Chamberlin (01:16:42):
That’s a whole nother thing.
Ryan Demerast (01:16:43):
Andy Chamberlin (01:16:44):
Ryan Demerast (01:16:44):
So, we are limited in that respect. And I think just getting smaller and more refined is better. Reduce and refine is what I write everywhere.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:16:56):
And I think there’s also a component, because our property is split by our road, we actually have to put in new utilities on the other side-
Ryan Demerast (01:17:07):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:17:08):
… to be able to.
Ryan Demerast (01:17:08):
We have a natural subdivision.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:17:09):
So, we’re basically dry farming on the south side of the property. But there is some, I think, good opportunity on that side for some just fruit trees and whether they’re partly going to be, probably, for aesthetic reasons and separation from the road, but certainly they’re all probably fruit trees and things like that, that, if we have a farm stand in the future, that that could be an opportunity there.
Ryan Demerast (01:17:40):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:17:41):
So, long-term thinking, but not really committed to anything or tied in. Certainly not financially tied to anything at this point.
Andy Chamberlin (01:17:51):
Ryan Demerast (01:17:51):
Yeah. Yeah, and I definitely do see a farm stand situation here someday in some form. And we talk about doing pigs every year, but we haven’t done it yet, but maybe just pigs for us.
Andy Chamberlin (01:18:02):
Right, right. Little homestead hobbies.
Ryan Demerast (01:18:02):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:18:02):
Andy Chamberlin (01:18:05):
Yeah. Got to have those, too.
Ryan Demerast (01:18:06):
Andy Chamberlin (01:18:08):
What advice would you give to your beginning farmer self?
Ryan Demerast (01:18:13):
Chill the heck out, man. Just relax. Not that I relax well now, but just calm down and don’t be so hard on yourself. Yeah, stress is not good. So, yeah, chill out. My mom got me this magnet. It’s from Where the Wild Things Are. And, as a kid, I can remember, he’s doing this thing at the monsters and just says, “Be still.” That’s my motto. But, yeah.
Ryan Demerast (01:18:52):
Yeah, calm down.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:18:53):
Yeah. And I think, to add to that, I would just say don’t compare yourself to someone else, especially because you don’t know really what their real full story is, number one. And it’s such a waste of energy to be thinking about someone else when you can just make a decision for yourself about what you have going on.
Andy Chamberlin (01:19:18):
You know yourself best, and you don’t know anybody else’s situation, their whole story. Yep, it’s a good point. That was my questions. Is there anything else that you wanted to share that I didn’t bring up?
Genica Breitenbeck (01:19:33):
I mean, I think we’re quite proud of the buildings that we’ve built here, even though, certainly, building them in an unconventional way. The first year I think we had gotten the posts up on this, and we just had a big pavilion here before we did any excavating. So, I wouldn’t recommend that. But it’s amazing, at least, if you have one person who can offer some good guidance when you need it, or a skillset that you can really do a lot yourself. It definitely takes longer. But I feel like knowing every component in this building and our house, as well, I feel very capable and that makes me feel good. We’ve dealt with some well issues before and done all replacement work on various components, and it all feels workable.
Yeah, it’s astounding and shocking when you don’t have water for a day or something, but when you know can just run to the town next over, buy a new pressure tank, and install it yourself, that feels really great. And it’s not like you have to wait for a plumber to show up, and if it’s a weekend, you’re in a lot of trouble as far as rates go. Yeah.
Ryan Demerast (01:21:12):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:21:13):
That’s been a huge component, I think, of the farm, is that we’ve been able to do a lot ourselves. And I think, in the big world of loans, we’re not that far in debt compared to some people, which is great knowing that.
Ryan Demerast (01:21:34):
Yeah. I just want to say that I’m so grateful for all the people that have come and been a part of this place and to get us where we are now and farm mentors and extension people and loan officers, and just the whole gamut of all the people that have helped us here and been supportive. And, of course, our families who are incredibly supportive, and we feel very fortunate to have the families that we do. And then, of course, to Steve Steinbacher. This place wouldn’t be anything like it is now without Steve. Steve’s my father-in-law, and her dad, obviously. And, yeah, he’s just been so incredible in the work that he’s done and the hours that he’s put in to help with building. Yeah, he’s incredible. My parents are, too. And your mom. Yeah.
Andy Chamberlin (01:21:34):
Ryan Demerast (01:21:34):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:22:42):
Ryan Demerast (01:22:44):
Andy Chamberlin (01:22:46):
Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing your story and all that you did. It’s great to get to know you and learn more about your farm. If people want to reach out to you, can they do that? And how so?
Ryan Demerast (01:22:58):
Yeah, NakedAcreFarm@gmail.com. My phone number’s on the website, too. Naked Acre Farm VT, I think. I can’t remember. NakedAcreFarm.com.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:23:13):
Ryan Demerast (01:23:16):
And, yeah. Yeah, that’s all.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:23:20):
Yeah. And I’m HomefrontGardensVT.com.
Ryan Demerast (01:23:20):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:23:25):
Ryan Demerast (01:23:25):
Yeah. Thank you so much for having us. It really is just an honor with, like I said, all the amazing folks that you’ve had on the podcast. I really appreciate being a part of that-
Andy Chamberlin (01:23:34):
Ryan Demerast (01:23:34):
… crew of people.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:23:36):
Andy Chamberlin (01:23:38):
My pleasure. Thank you.
Before you click away, if you’d like to listen to the field tour, that part of this episode starts now. We go outside, we walk around the fields and the high tunnels, listen to the rain, talk about the crops, and how Ryan manages his farm.
Ryan Demerast (01:23:57):
I guess we could start, this is our prop house. We could peek in here. This was outside because we had a well emergency. Our well crapped out on us, so we didn’t have water for a couple of days.
Andy Chamberlin (01:24:10):
Ryan Demerast (01:24:10):
So, we were pumping it out of that. But the prop house is the only house we have that has electricity so far. So, I do micros every week. And then, obviously, it’s thinning out this time of year because everything is getting out in the field.
Andy Chamberlin (01:24:28):
Ryan Demerast (01:24:29):
It’s also storage.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:24:31):
Ryan Demerast (01:24:31):
The couch right there.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:24:31):
We move in and it’s tiny.
Ryan Demerast (01:24:34):
We don’t have a lot of storage in this place.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:24:36):
Ryan Demerast (01:24:36):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:24:38):
And yeah, I’ve got some of my edible flowers in here. So, I grow some of the less hearty. Anything that’s less hearty, I just keep in pots, and they’re with mother plants. I’ll take cuttings and just keep them fresh from year to year.
Andy Chamberlin (01:24:56):
How do you like your hose trawler?
Ryan Demerast (01:24:59):
It’s a work in progress. It’s good. It’s better than it was last year, so every year-
Andy Chamberlin (01:24:59):
Ryan Demerast (01:25:05):
… it improves. I make some improvements on it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:25:08):
Price looks favorable.
Ryan Demerast (01:25:10):
Andy Chamberlin (01:25:11):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:25:11):
Ryan Demerast (01:25:11):
Andy Chamberlin (01:25:12):
… looks favorable.
Ryan Demerast (01:25:13):
Yeah, yeah. But I saw that online somewhere, and it works pretty well. It’s just this hose is a really nice hose, but it’s very rigid. And so, the pulleys, it twists them all around. So, I don’t have it oriented correctly yet. I mean, it works fine. I can pull it down, but if I’m coming back on that side, it’s a pain in the ass.
Andy Chamberlin (01:25:35):
Ryan Demerast (01:25:36):
But, yeah, so this is the prop house. I spend a lot of time. I have a vacuum seeder that I use and absolutely love. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. And I made a little insulated-
Andy Chamberlin (01:25:44):
Oh, I want to see that.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:25:44):
Ryan Demerast (01:25:45):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:25:45):
We should go back and look at that.
Ryan Demerast (01:25:47):
So, this is the trap door. There’s a box outside that I dump my Fort V into with the tractor bucket. This closes for winter. Not insulated, but this house is not very efficient anyway. So, I have a vacuum seeder that I use for the paper pot right here. And then, the regular 128s. That’s pretty much all I use. And 50s, I just hand sell those. And then, this is just hooked up to a simple plug and it turns on, and then I can just kill it with the switch.
Andy Chamberlin (01:26:30):
Do you have a shop vac in the box?
Ryan Demerast (01:26:32):
Andy Chamberlin (01:26:32):
Ryan Demerast (01:26:33):
Yep. It’s just a little one.
Andy Chamberlin (01:26:35):
Ryan Demerast (01:26:36):
Andy Chamberlin (01:26:36):
Ryan Demerast (01:26:37):
Yeah, it’s inside. It’s just insulated so it’s not super loud. I mean, it was way louder. Even that, I mean, it’s great if I have music going, I can still hear stuff. But the only problem is that, this year, I had to rig this up because I found a mouse nest in there. They crawled in, and, then, I used it the first time this spring. And I was like, ” This really smells.” I was like, “What’s going on in there?” Sure enough.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:27:04):
But they were alive.
Ryan Demerast (01:27:05):
They were alive.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:27:06):
They were getting tortured with a whole round-
Ryan Demerast (01:27:10):
I know I couldn’t believe it.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:27:11):
… of seeding.
Ryan Demerast (01:27:11):
Yeah, because it was on, we, off. And they were just in there, probably traumatized. It works. It has worked for a couple of years, I think next year, once it’s empty, I’m going to redo it because I just slapped it together. And then, these are exhaust fans. I can close those up and they’re insulated with one inch insulation that I can close for the winter. So, anything to improve even just a teeny bit to not spend so much on propane is great.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:27:40):
Ryan Demerast (01:27:41):
But we definitely cut our propane costs this year significantly compared to last year. I had a bunch of little greenhouses in greenhouses with the fluorescent lights and stuff, and that was enough heat to keep it really nice and warm. Just rigged up hoops, basically, over the benches, things like that. So, that’s all down here. And then, these are great. Jenica found this. This is the best backpack spray. I love it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:28:06):
Ryan Demerast (01:28:06):
MY4SONS is so good.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:28:08):
Yeah, I heard about it on the No-Till Flower Farmer podcast, and it’s super powerful, and the battery is super rugged.
Ryan Demerast (01:28:19):
Yeah, it lasts.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:28:20):
I left it outside over the winter, which is a bad decision.
Andy Chamberlin (01:28:24):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:28:25):
But it is been fine. It’s been great. And it just recharges. Yeah, and there’s tons of options with it. Very powerful.
Andy Chamberlin (01:28:35):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:28:35):
I use it for client gardens and spraying apple trees, like 25 foot apple trees and everything, and it works great. Yeah. This is my new little house here. It doesn’t look like too much right now, but I can show you inside. And then-
Ryan Demerast (01:28:59):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:28:59):
… client plants. So, I’ve got some plantings to do before I can’t move anymore.
Ryan Demerast (01:29:08):
Yeah, I guess it’s good to clarify, Jenica has her own business.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:12):
Ryan Demerast (01:29:12):
We could talk about that a little later. But she’s-
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:12):
Ryan Demerast (01:29:15):
… not necessarily part of the farm.
Andy Chamberlin (01:29:15):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:17):
Ryan Demerast (01:29:17):
She’s got Home Front Gardens. I have Naked Acre Farms.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:20):
Andy Chamberlin (01:29:20):
She’s just stealing your space.
Ryan Demerast (01:29:22):
Well, we’re going to talk about that.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:24):
Well, I’ve always, yeah.
Ryan Demerast (01:29:25):
Actually. I’m gaining some space coming up.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:26):
Right. I’ve always had this field except for maybe the first year, I think
Ryan Demerast (01:29:31):
Yeah, there were Brassicas in this field the first year.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:34):
And so, it’s a good, actually, sample of how much perennial grass we have, and how much we have to deal with-
Ryan Demerast (01:29:42):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:42):
… when we’re flipping new ground. So, I know it’s just going to be a process of constant trying to tending to it to try to kill the-
Ryan Demerast (01:29:53):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:29:53):
… grass. But just a little sampling of the beginning of the flowers. I only have a handful of accounts at this point, so-
Ryan Demerast (01:30:06):
It’s good size.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:07):
… it’s the perfect amount for me to keep busy on the farm.
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:11):
So, yeah, right here, what? You probably just said it, and I didn’t catch it. What are you doing in here? Because you’ve got like six plants. That’s not [inaudible 01:30:20]-
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:19):
Right. It’s just edible flowers.
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:21):
Edible flowers. Okay.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:22):
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:23):
Ryan Demerast (01:30:23):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:25):
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:26):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:27):
I work with the chefs on-
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:27):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:29):
… their flavor profiles, what they’re using them for.
Ryan Demerast (01:30:32):
And colors too.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:32):
Ryan Demerast (01:30:34):
They have certain colors and non-other colors.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:38):
And they look pretty sparse because the idea is, well, some of them are just starting to get going.
Ryan Demerast (01:30:44):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:44):
But others, you’ve got a dead head in between each week, even after the harvest. To make sure that there’s almost nothing left, so that they’re going to bud again for the next week.
Andy Chamberlin (01:30:55):
Right. It’s early, and they bush up.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:30:57):
Yep. So, I had originally thought that I would do cut flowers on the farm and then, also, do my gardening business. And it didn’t make sense because I couldn’t get the quality of cut flowers as needed.
Ryan Demerast (01:31:17):
Yeah. We were spread way too thin. That was our first year.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:31:22):
Yeah, and that was the first couple of years. But I did a couple of years of doing some small events, and then there’s some remnants of that in here. I was supposed to-
Ryan Demerast (01:31:34):
So, when I said I’m going to gain some space, she’s going to be moving the flower side of stuff out into that house, and I’ll gain. She’s had those beds since 2018.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:31:44):
Ryan Demerast (01:31:44):
And so, I’ll be gaining. This’ll be a fully naked acre house-
Andy Chamberlin (01:31:44):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:31:49):
Andy Chamberlin (01:31:49):
… instead of a split house coming up.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:31:52):
And there’s all these bulbs in these beds. So, I’m having a digging party, actually, this weekend to try to out, get them in the field, and then we can tarp it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:32:05):
Ryan Demerast (01:32:06):
10 o’clock tomorrow, if you want to come.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:32:07):
So, a mix of tulips, which most of those are eaten, actually, by voles. But a lot of narcissists. And then, these are just self sown biennials. And then, a bunch of self sown, I haven’t seeded calendula in three years, and I get plenty out of what I get here. So, what was in the other house was all transplants, seedlings from this house. So-
Ryan Demerast (01:32:46):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:32:46):
… a bit of mayhem that will soon be back in proper control.
Ryan Demerast (01:32:53):
So, we call this the big house. It’s, obviously, relative, but it’s our biggest house. It’s one 20 by 30. It’s a Ledgewood. Heirlooms and highlooms in here desperately need a pruning. You’ll see a lot of the tomatoes we’re a little behind on pruning. A former employee, who became a friend, is my pruner this year, but he’s had some family stuff in Belgium. He’s from Belgium, grew up in Quebec, and he’s been in Belgium for the past month and a half, two months, something like that, because he’s had some family stuff. So, we’re pruning them when we can, but there’s obviously a lot to do this time of year.
And then, cukes, funny story here. I did the cukes in white plastic this year. I experimented with a little little bit of white plastic in the field Brassicas in here, too. And we spent some time, laid it all by hand, it was really nice, and one of the people that’s working for me, we planted them all out. And I was on my delivery route to CSA, and they called and they said, ” 20 of the plants are gone.” This was an hour after he finished. And turns out, then 10 more were gone, 20 more were gone. And they were just getting just ravished by a vole. And so, we tried castor oil.
Andy Chamberlin (01:34:16):
Sounds like he would watch it happen.
Ryan Demerast (01:34:19):
Yeah, it was. It was like a Caddyshack situation where they were just getting sucked down under the plastic. But they weren’t eating them. They were just chopping them down and just leaving them there, which was such so annoying. It’s like, “Just eat it. If you’re going to take it, eat it.” But they’re gross. It’s cucumber plants. They probably taste terrible. So, I called Jenica, and Jenica came out and put down castor oil. That did nothing. And so, the only thing we could do, I just came down with scissors and just cut it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:34:45):
Yeah. So, no white plastic?
Ryan Demerast (01:34:47):
No. Well, it’s going to go back. I’m going to fold it back over and staple it. So, the other thing was these beds were very minimally turned over. I was starting to experiment with some no-till low till stuff, and my expectation was that I could tarp it all, and all the weeds and all the stuff that I had cut, I, basically, flail mowed it and then broad forked it and then tarped it and then put the plastic on. So, there’s a lot of organic material in the top of the bed, which was going to break down for the plants, but now it’s exposed. So, they’re growing again.
Andy Chamberlin (01:35:23):
The rodent pressure was due to the plastic, you think?
Ryan Demerast (01:35:27):
Andy Chamberlin (01:35:27):
Ryan Demerast (01:35:27):
So, I’m doing a lot more plastic landscape fabric everywhere this year just to try and mitigate some weed control. I’ve committed to plastic culture in some spots just to help with weed pressure this year-
Andy Chamberlin (01:35:27):
Ryan Demerast (01:35:37):
… because it’s been out of control for a long time. And it’s going well. But I realize, you start something else, and there’s another thing that you hadn’t thought about. And for me here, anyway, the rodent pressure has been out of control with the plastic. It’s been crazy. So, eating things, like pepper plants, cucumber plants, more than half of the Lasanado kale plants, but super selective about things. So, I can’t figure it out.
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:02):
This year? Or is-
Ryan Demerast (01:36:03):
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:03):
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:36:04]
Ryan Demerast (01:36:00):
It’s just, so I can’t figure it out.
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:02):
This year or?
Ryan Demerast (01:36:03):
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:03):
Ryan Demerast (01:36:04):
Yeah, because I’ve used more plastic this year than I ever have. Like I said, to help with weeds.
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:09):
Ryan Demerast (01:36:10):
Which has been great in that regard, not so great in this other regard. Even just from day one, essentially from the first plant in the house, it’s like broccolini plants were just half just decimated. Traps, I get big old cardboard rolls, like eight-foot rolls, and I cut them down into sections like this and just put two traps, and that helps a lot. I didn’t catch anything in here, but once I cut the plastic open, they didn’t come back. They were just gone.
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:37):
Ryan Demerast (01:36:38):
We replanted some and I had some leftover, so we will have a full bed, but once the plants are bigger and trellised, I’ll put it back in and staple it up.
Andy Chamberlin (01:36:48):
How do you like your tomato trellising system?
Ryan Demerast (01:36:52):
It’s good. It’s better than it used to be. The roller hooks are pretty nice. I wish that we had put this house a little taller. I wish that we had brought it up a little higher. The cross ties seem really low in this house, so the plants, they grow significantly higher than the top of the thing. But, I do like it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:37:13):
Do they have a ratcheting mechanism on them? I’ve seen them, but I haven’t really-
Ryan Demerast (01:37:17):
It’s not ratchet. It’s kind of a spool situation, so it’s basically a thing that stops it. As the thing comes down, that’s what locks it.
Andy Chamberlin (01:37:17):
Oh, I see.
Ryan Demerast (01:37:31):
Then you just pull that up and-
Andy Chamberlin (01:37:32):
It’s got like a cam.
Ryan Demerast (01:37:34):
Yep, so it’s like that, and then you just woop. Then what I’ll do is, I’ll just come through at the end of the year and cut these all with, pull it up, cut them all with scissors, and then just snap this and bring it out. Then next year they’ll just be here ready for the next-
Andy Chamberlin (01:37:50):
Then that spool, you just grab it, pull it down.
Ryan Demerast (01:37:52):
Yep, and you don’t need to tie anything, you can just-
Andy Chamberlin (01:37:55):
Are you stapling it to the ground?
Ryan Demerast (01:37:58):
No, not at all.
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:00):
Just hanging the plants.
Ryan Demerast (01:38:01):
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:03):
Are you lowering and leaning with this?
Ryan Demerast (01:38:06):
I would like to. I just, I think with the qukes this year, if they stay healthy, I’ve had a lot of problems with qukes disease. I don’t prune them or anything like that. I probably should. I did last year, lower and lean. There’s a cherry tomato variety that I grow that’s just like, it’s prolific. The plant gets huge. There’s just a ton of tomatoes. Sakura, I think it’s a Johnny’s. I get it at Johnny’s. Those plants are just huge plants, and so I lowered those last year. But yeah, so this is one house.
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:46):
Your drip tape I see.
Ryan Demerast (01:38:47):
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:48):
Hanging off the wall.
Ryan Demerast (01:38:49):
Last year. Last year’s drip tape. I reused some of it and some of it I put in new.
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:56):
When you’re cleaning out the house in the fall, you just take the tape and tie it up on each end-
Ryan Demerast (01:38:56):
Andy Chamberlin (01:38:56):
… and it’s ready for the next time.
Ryan Demerast (01:39:00):
Tie it on this end, the top end, and then I just bring it and kind of tie it up and get it real tight, and then just stays there. Then as it gets warmer, it just droops, droops, droops, droops, so you got to redo it in the spring. Those are just leftover. I put in, obviously for the Romas, I put in a new line and some of them you can see they got couplers on them. If they have couplers I usually don’t reuse them again, but just to get them up and out of the way, I put them on that side. Double inflation, two inflators.
Andy Chamberlin (01:39:36):
You’re using two inflators, because there’s so many holes, you need that much volume?
Ryan Demerast (01:39:41):
Holes, and that one wasn’t doing it on it’s own.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:39:44):
Yeah, that first year there was plastic on this house, 2018-19. That winter we had so much snow that it was just sagging, and we didn’t have a tractor mounted snowblower yet, so we were just doing everything on snowshoes and shovels. It was intense.
Ryan Demerast (01:40:10):
We were standing up over the hip board digging down, it was terrible, snowshoes, and remember it was right before VBBGA. Remember that meeting, we woke up at five in the morning to shovel the house out and trying to get down to the meeting. It was ridiculous. Yep, bird netting. Got to get that on as soon as possible. We have a significant problem with birds eating fruit in our-
Andy Chamberlin (01:40:33):
You going to hang that over the doors?
Ryan Demerast (01:40:35):
Andy Chamberlin (01:40:35):
Ryan Demerast (01:40:36):
Any opening, basically. Our friends have a screen, it’s like a magnetic screen thing for the door.
Andy Chamberlin (01:40:36):
Ryan Demerast (01:40:42):
I’m going to see if I can get one that’s this big just for doors.
Andy Chamberlin (01:40:42):
That’s a good idea.
Ryan Demerast (01:40:46):
Yeah, because I don’t know what else I could do. They’re going to find a way in, but if I can just mitigate it a little bit. I mean, they come in and they go to town. Especially on the heirlooms, so it’s like-
Genica Breitenbeck (01:40:56):
They really like the yellow tomatoes and the orange.
Ryan Demerast (01:41:00):
And, the purples, and the greens.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:41:02):
Ryan Demerast (01:41:05):
I think they just like tomatoes. But yeah, they do the orange ones they go for the first. The striped Germans, oh my god, you have this big, you’ll have this, or I’ll have a big beautiful stripe German that’s almost ready, and then sure enough, just. There’s storage area. I lived in that camper the first two years. This is my brassica field for the most part. In the process of flipping this over to, I have some, basically some three foot ultra web that I’m going to use for the pathways, because obviously pathways are in pretty rough shape. I’ll lay that down, and then the idea is with the plastic cover, next year will be, the weed pressure will be significantly reduced.
Andy Chamberlin (01:42:01):
Ryan Demerast (01:42:02):
But I never really, the pathways are always a mystery to me. Keeping them clean, I think.
Andy Chamberlin (01:42:09):
Like how to keep them clean?
Ryan Demerast (01:42:11):
Yeah, just the best way.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:42:11):
Ryan Demerast (01:42:13):
We have a couple cultivating tractors, but I haven’t had really great luck with that, especially down in that area. It’s tough. Maybe a belly mounted kind of thing, but on the slope it’s tough. I, on one year, would just go and this one would be not doing anything, and this one would be way too deep. Then I’d have to come back and do the same thing on the other side, so it’s just tough figuring it out. I think this year I’m just going to do ultra web. Yeah, I’m very new to tractor cultivation. It’s not a skill that I have. No, I mean, it’s not an ideal, not, that’s not the word. It’s not like your regular farm like you would think of a typical farm. But, we love it here. I mean, I feel like super protected with the woods and there’s tons habitat for all sorts of different things. I think pest pressure isn’t maybe as significant as other places because of that reason.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:43:09):
I would say part of it is where we’re located because of the, I’d say tourist value of just being in between several mountain, like mountain towns.
Ryan Demerast (01:43:24):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:43:24):
The real estate is just out of control, as far as a practical minded we want to farm. We both had existing businesses when we met and decided to buy something, so it was like we were in a spot where we’d automatically be limited, unless we wanted to add another hour commute or something onto-
Ryan Demerast (01:43:51):
Yeah, I remember we looked in Stowe and there was two five acre plots together that could have been 10 acres. It was flat and it was $ 500,000 for 10 acres. We were like, oh, with nothing, nothing on it. We’re like, okay.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:44:08):
And, flooding potential.
Ryan Demerast (01:44:10):
Yeah. This is beets and lettuce. You could see we’re still dealing with a grass a little bit, but this is definitely an improvement from the past, for sure. Those are all paper potted. I do beets in paper pots. Actually, the gems are all paper potted. The head lettuce right here is all, that’s all hand transplanted.
Andy Chamberlin (01:44:38):
How long have you been using the paper pot?
Ryan Demerast (01:44:42):
Three years, maybe.
Andy Chamberlin (01:44:45):
Ryan Demerast (01:44:47):
I don’t know. The jury is still out, I think, on that. Yeah, it’s definitely got its benefits, but I think our soil is not very well suited to it, because it’s very rich soil and there’s a lot of stones in our soil. Like stones of all sizes.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:45:07):
Ryan Demerast (01:45:08):
Yeah, but I mean, the soil’s beautiful. It’s great, but I mean that thing will be, I mean, it’s bouncing all over the place. Keeping lines straight is very challenging. Burying the chains are very challenging. I have another tool that I come back and I have to every, it’s just part of the protocol. It’s like I pull it out and then I hit it with this tool it’s kind of like a closer on the thing, and so that’s just part of it, but still it reduces the time dramatically, even still. But there is, I find, especially with the lettuce that I do, like the salad mix, it takes a long time for it to get going, growing as opposed to this.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:45:50):
I think the other thing we’ve observed is just that, compared to if we were going to direct sow something like this, we still are competing with so much grass that it’s almost impossible to direct sow something and get this nice thick crop happening. Same with the beets. It’s been so much better.
Ryan Demerast (01:45:50):
Andy Chamberlin (01:46:16):
Right, so it may be stunted, but it’s got a headstart.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:46:17):
Ryan Demerast (01:46:17):
Yeah, but I mean the beets can be stunted. This type of the gems can be stunted, like frisee I do it in paper pots. Like those things, that’s fine. The lettuce, the salad mix I want to have that, obviously, every week, and when that crop is held up a little bit, it’s challenging. The other things can wait. I mean, no one’s going to be pounding the door down for beets, you know what I mean? It’s like, where’s my beets? But yeah, the salad mix, I mean, it used to take me, I can do three times the amount of space in the same amount of time or a little bit less that it took me hand transplanting. There’s definitely a reduction. This looked so much cleaner yesterday. What the heck? Just a little bit of rain.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:47:08):
Ryan Demerast (01:47:09):
What the heck?
Genica Breitenbeck (01:47:12):
We do have, what, erosion issues here, for sure. Pile, like this is part of that mitigation process.
Ryan Demerast (01:47:22):
You can see it right there.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:47:23):
Oh yeah, that’s really bad.
Ryan Demerast (01:47:25):
This field all needs to be tarped. It should have been tarped two weeks ago. That was the plan. But, you can see the erosion issues that we have. I mean, just on the slope, this kind of comes down this way and then pitches this way, so it’s just like water and it, yeah, that’s not great.
Andy Chamberlin (01:47:40):
When we get these downpours, does it wash out your plants bad?
Ryan Demerast (01:47:45):
Thankfully, not too bad this year, yet. I mean, obviously that was not great, but that’s a result of having the black plastic there with the squashes. But, if we get a significant downpour, which thankfully we have not, yeah, this would be washed out.
Andy Chamberlin (01:48:02):
Ryan Demerast (01:48:02):
Next year I got to figure, I’m kind of slowly thinking about moving towards sort of a low till, no till. I mean, haven’t used a tiller yet this year. I actually didn’t use it all last year either.
Andy Chamberlin (01:48:11):
Ryan Demerast (01:48:14):
Moving that way, but still, I mean this is loose soil, so trying to think about living pathways maybe or mulch, straw mulch, or everything on landscape fabric. I don’t know yet exactly what it’s going to be. That’ll be winter pondering, I think, next year and doing some research.
Andy Chamberlin (01:48:31):
You haven’t used the tiller, what prep are you doing ahead of paper potting?
Ryan Demerast (01:48:39):
I have, paper pots kind of, that’s an interesting, a lot of tarping to get rid of, any residue, stuff like that. But basically, this field was, what did I do with this field? That field was, I use a disc. That field, I used a disc this year and then a bed shaper, because the weeds weren’t too bad. There wasn’t a lot of material in there. But, I also have a chisel plow that I use and then come in with a bed shaper. Then if there’s a lot of residue or stuff that is going to get in the way of the paper pot, I have a BCS and I have a PDR on it. It’s kind of like it’s a depth.
Andy Chamberlin (01:49:18):
Ryan Demerast (01:49:18):
Have you seen or heard of? Yeah, so I’ll do that at an inch and just create a fluffy little top, and that helps just like-
Andy Chamberlin (01:49:27):
Ryan Demerast (01:49:28):
Yeah, like a tilter, essentially a tilter kind of situation.
Andy Chamberlin (01:49:31):
Ryan Demerast (01:49:31):
The same thing as a power arrow would do for the BCS. The BBCs is 30 inches wide, these beds are 42, 44 ish, and so I have to do two quick passes and I just do a quick till and then that’s enough. Or, what I’ve been doing this year is, kind of using the wheel ho and then raking it out a little bit too, so getting the residue out and raking that stuff out, then using the paper pot. It’s a process I feel like. But I mean, it’s a market garden essentially, but I tracked a farm on a market garden sort of thing. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it works, and I love using the tractor. That’s just kind of what we do.
Now, don’t take pictures of this, or you can. This is my ultimate nightmare. This was planted in March. This was obviously the Pac-Man style, and it has been amazing for yields, for sure. This thing has been weeded probably three or four times, and it is painstakingly slow and challenging. You have to be basically like a gymnast to weed these beds. Because, you’ve got to come in and find a path and then tiptoe your way through. We have a significant chickweed problem in these houses. It’s not great, but this is second cut coming down, and it’s bolting and bitter, so I didn’t want to come in and weed it again. Definitely lots of lettuce came out of this little area. More than we can handle.
Andy Chamberlin (01:51:18):
Pac-Man good or bad for you?
Ryan Demerast (01:51:20):
I think it needs to be done differently. This is all paper pot, and so I think if I could take a house, part of a house out of production for a month or two months leading up to a fall planting or a spring planting, I think that would help just tarp it. But, I think what I might move towards is landscape fabric, and then just burn the holes and hand transplanting. I mean, it’s super slow. I would imagine that’s just going to be a very, very slow process, but no weeds. Then you don’t have that problem of worrying about planting dates, because did I do the planting date well, or is it going to be set back of the paper pot, like it not taking root right away? Yeah, so I think that’s going to be what it is. But this year is going to be challenging, because we have something happening. I hope I can get it all in, so it might be another year of paper pot and chickweed nightmares. Then these are the cherry tomatoes and peppers that were a little bit devastated by mice and moles in the spring.
Andy Chamberlin (01:52:33):
When you’re, are you hand harvesting this-
Ryan Demerast (01:52:33):
Andy Chamberlin (01:52:36):
… or quick cut harvesting?
Ryan Demerast (01:52:38):
No, not quick cut. I cut it all by knife.
Andy Chamberlin (01:52:40):
So you can avoid the weeds.
Ryan Demerast (01:52:42):
Yep. Yeah, I mean-
Andy Chamberlin (01:52:43):
Taking that out later.
Ryan Demerast (01:52:44):
Yep, this is bad, but I could still come in through and it’s super easy. It’s surrounded, but you just right like this-
Andy Chamberlin (01:52:55):
Ryan Demerast (01:52:56):
… and there’s no weeds. We go through it up there in the wash pack, but for the most part it comes out pretty clean. But honestly, weeks before this, it is been really clean. I’ve had a great crew this year so far, small, very small crew, but who’s willing to spend some hours doing this. But, it’s mostly chickweed with a little shepherd’s purse and the chickweed is just really, really bad here. I’m looking into thinking about, I don’t really want to steam, so I’m trying to figure out different ways of going about that. I think what it is just, it’s just tarping and taking little areas out of production. Which, I was talking to James at Trillium Hill, and he said that he found that tarping, certain areas that were tarped had less issues with cutworm, winter cutworm too. That’s kind of a dual benefit, I think, of tarping because we have some serious winter cutworm issues too in the fall.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:54:01):
Ryan Demerast (01:54:02):
Yeah, this was all planted in March, so it’s ready to be done. It’s getting pretty bitter. But yeah, I mean it’s great, and I mean that little, you can see that little area. This is a second cut, so it wasn’t as big. Down there is the first cut. That little tiny area that you’re seeing by the bucket was probably 70 pounds or something like that.
Andy Chamberlin (01:54:21):
Ryan Demerast (01:54:23):
I mean, it’s a significant amount of yield coming out, a very small space. Next year, the fall, when we get over there, there’s a new house that I built last fall that’s going to be entirely, the whole thing is going to be lettuce. It’s the plan anyway, let’s see what happens. See what happens in August. These, obviously, need a significant pruning too, and I just get behind on tomatoes.
Then back on that side of the house, that’s a pretty wet area. It’s getting better. I need to put in drains on the side. I mean, the way the slope works, everything comes off and then the rain off the houses doesn’t help either. Our soil’s so rich that it’ll stick to the bottom of the paper pot and then the trench, it just won’t bury anything. It’ll just dig out and just lay the chain down. This is one of my first houses.
Andy Chamberlin (01:55:19):
Ryan Demerast (01:55:20):
You can tell, it’s a janky house.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:55:22):
It’s [inaudible 01:55:23].
Ryan Demerast (01:55:23):
The one that was over there was even worse. It was pretty bad. When I first started, my dad, he’s a land surveyor, and he was doing this job and there was somebody had leased some land, a farm had leased some land, and they just disappeared. They were just gone, so they left everything. The landowner was like, he had hired this company to come and just get rid of everything. My dad called me and was like, “Hey, you want some greenhouses,” and I was like, “Yeah, would I.” I went down and it was a big party and he helped take it all apart, and I got four houses. It’s like four janky houses like this for like 2300 bucks. Starting out it was great. We just had to put in the labor to get it out of there and stuff.
Andy Chamberlin (01:56:07):
Ryan Demerast (01:56:07):
Either that or it was going in a dumpster.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:56:09):
And, they were shorter to begin with.
Ryan Demerast (01:56:11):
They were shorter, so I extended them up, and this is one of them. There were four total. There’s only two left in existence. Two of them were over there in a pile. I feel like this is a good view of the evolution of the farm. This is first starting janky houses, this is the last house that was built, and it’s got drill roll up sides and double inflated, and yeah, I’m very happy with this house.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:56:37):
Ryan Demerast (01:56:38):
This is kind of a Ledgewood Rimol combo. Like the hip boards or the metal Rimol things that they sell. I grew such crappy celery last year that I was like, I just want to see if I can grow it. It’s actually, it’s pretty good.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:56:56):
It tastes good.
Ryan Demerast (01:56:57):
Yeah. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with it. Oh, I shouldn’t crunch with the mic, huh? It’s going to be super crunchy.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:56:57):
It’s coming down.
Ryan Demerast (01:57:08):
I’m going to close up some sides, all right, I’ll be right back. I love this thing. It’s the best for the walls. It’s so much better.
Andy Chamberlin (01:57:25):
Than hand cranking?
Ryan Demerast (01:57:26):
Oh yeah, or like, yeah. I’ve had some, I’ve almost got, yeah, just I’ve had some close calls with roll up sides, just the systems that we have here, getting hit in the head, and the hand, and face.
Genica Breitenbeck (01:57:40):
Yeah, a friend of ours has honeybees here the last, what, two years.
Ryan Demerast (01:57:45):
Genica Breitenbeck (01:57:47):
It’s been cool to see them going all around, especially to different just native plants as well as in the houses.
Ryan Demerast (01:57:59):
This is all my cut greens and salad production for, yeah, like retail bags and restaurants, and things like that. Lettuce is kind of on the far side. There’s a really weedy bed of carrots right there, and then kind of week to week I just keep moving this way. The tarps, these are all tarped. The first beds over there were tarped all winter, and then this’ll essentially just go start on that side. I’ve started on that side the first time of the year, and now I’m moving back this way. Yeah, it’s just kind of a rotation of the tarps. It’s been really good this year, actually. But, the tarps are kind of a bear to move, especially the 50 footer, 50 x 100 is really a pain in the butt, especially with all this rain.
Andy Chamberlin (01:58:52):
Ryan Demerast (01:58:53):
It just makes it really heavy.
Andy Chamberlin (01:58:54):
You can’t roll in puddles very easily.
Ryan Demerast (01:58:59):
No, no. But for this, if it’s, we don’t have super great irrigation, so if we don’t get rain, what I’ll do with these tarps is kind of fold. I’ll seed everything, water it in if I need to, and then fold it back over. Then, like two days later, everything is germinated. Yeah, and then protect net for bugs.
Andy Chamberlin (01:58:59):
Ryan Demerast (01:59:24):
Yeah, we struggled for a long time with, I struggled with disease, lots of disease issues in the Nebraska’s under row cover. It’s just hot and moist, and we have a lot of Rhizoctonia in the soil anyway that’s present, and it just would present in the grains all the time, so it had to sell them. Those beds that are open are ready to be mowed. I’ll come in with the flail mower, flail mow them, put down any fertilizer, and then do that light till on the top with the PDR.
This is koji from Johnny’s, and it’s great. Usually isn’t as disease-y. Then there’s arugula on the other side, so it’s a mix of kale, top soy, mazuma, red mazuma, just kind of a mixed greens thing. Kale, two more houses and then head up?
Genica Breitenbeck (02:00:17):
Ryan Demerast (02:00:20):
Okay. This is a tomato house, it’s called, and I am redoing the trellis system, so these are not fully trellis just yet. Although, they did get a good pruning here. These are all hybrids. This is all hybrids that I grow. It’s hybrids in here, heirlooms up there, cherries in there, and cherries in there.
Andy Chamberlin (02:00:41):
There’s a lot of tomatoes.
Ryan Demerast (02:00:43):
Yeah, I increased the spacing this year, or decreased the spacing, increased the amount to, these are all at 12 inches, just single liter, 12 inches. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully Augustan comes back soon. There’s five varieties.
Andy Chamberlin (02:01:01):
Ryan Demerast (02:01:01):
Yep. This is the south rim. This is a Rimol. That’s the north rim, south Rim. Both Rimols. I had, this year again, the spring pale bolted on there. Last year I thought, I’m still trying to figure out why this is happening, but, so this house is in the process of being flipped from spring kale, which I was hoping would be productive longer, but can’t seem to figure it out. But the lacinato is doing fine. It was all planted at the same time. Then qukes and frisee over there. That’s it, and then we have some stuff across the road, but we kind of neglect that side of the road anyway, so we’ll end it there. These are just legumes, peas, and beans for CSA.
Andy Chamberlin (02:01:54):
Ryan Demerast (02:01:55):
Andy Chamberlin (02:02:03):
I’m Andy Chamberlin, and that was The Farmer’s Share. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Ryan and Genica of Naked Acre Farm and Home Front Gardens. I’m excited to share that this show has been awarded a grant offered by the USDA Specialty Crop Block Program from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets. This funding will help cover some of my time and travel in order to produce more episodes of this podcast for the next two and a half years. You’ll be happy to know that I plan to keep producing this show for a while. The USDA Ag Marketing Service supports projects that address the needs of US specialty crop growers and strengthens local and regional food systems. I have no doubt that this podcast will meet those needs and help educate growers to support the industry. The Farmer’s Share is also supported by the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association and the Ag Engineering program of the University of Vermont Extension.
If you enjoy the show and want to help support its programming, you can make a one-time or a reoccurring donation on our website by visiting TheFarmersShare.com/support. You can visit TheFarmersShare.com to listen to previous interviews or see photos, videos, or links discussed from the conversation. If you don’t want to miss the next episode, enter your email address on our website, and you’ll get a note in your inbox when the next one comes out. This show has a YouTube channel with videos from several of the farm visits. We’re also on Instagram, so that’s where you can be reminded about the latest episode or see photos from the visit.
Lastly, if you’re enjoying the show, I’d love it if you could write me a review. In Apple Podcast, click on the show, scroll down to the bottom, and there you can leave five stars and a comment to help encourage new listeners to tune in. I’d also encourage you to share this episode with any other grower, friends, or crew who you think would get inspiration from it. Thanks for listening.