“Lovin’ It”: Change and Growth on the BDA Property
By Rebecca Briggs
Communications Coordinator, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association
It’s hard to believe that, a little less than four months ago, farmers Jonah Bloch and Amber Lippert were just signing a lease with the Biodynamic Association. Back in early April, there were no neat rows of potatoes, squashes, and tomatoes; there were no lilies blooming in the flower bed; there were no chickens scratching the ground below the fir tree; there were no farm workers riding the bike back and forth from field to house.
Now, four months later, there is a whole new energy to the place. Their CSA is in full swing, with 25 members, and more are joining each week. CSA boxes are full of head lettuce, kale, herbs, broccoli, baby potatoes, and eggs. A third greenhouse has been erected where, very soon, fall and winter crops will find an extended-season home.
As Jonah says, it’s been a “crazy” time: “Just amazing. [The crops] are lovin’ it. They’re lovin’ the land.” He has been surprised by how healthy and lush the plants all look, even in places where they have not had time to weed adequately.
Not to romanticize farming, however. It’s been a tough season. The weather in the Pacific Northwest — unlike in much of the rest of the country, which has seen withering triple-digit temperatures — has consistently been cooler and wetter than normal. In the Willamette Valley in Oregon, many fruits and vegetables are a couple weeks later than the norm this year.
On top of the climatic difficulties, Jonah and Amber lost one of their key workers right at the beginning of their CSA season. They have a couple new workers now, thanks to their WWOOF posting, from which they received “a ton of responses” — so many, in fact, that they had to take their post down after only 48 hours.
On the day I visited, the power was out, which meant Jonah was calling all CSA members to tell them their shares would be a day late, as they could not wash or refrigerate the harvest without power. Fortunately, their shareholders were understanding. It’s a reality of country life that, when your power goes, your well water goes too. And it’s a reality of farm life that you adjust to whatever comes your way.
Adding to the busy atmosphere of the farm, and to the excitement, are the preparations for Jonah and Amber’s upcoming wedding in August. They have been growing their own flowers for the celebration, although the gorgeous lilies bloomed (unlike just about everything else this season!) sooner than expected. Both Jonah and Amber are, not surprisingly, very much looking forward to this event…and then to moving forward with next season’s, and next year’s, plans for the land.
What’s in store? More chickens, definitely. Having the winter to plan so they can get the hot-weather crops in the large greenhouse next April, instead of out in the field as they are this year. Plowing more land so they can put in more crops. Perhaps some perennial fruits and asparagus near the driveway. When talking to Jonah or Amber, you can’t help but get excited about the possibilities.
But they still need help! Jonah and Amber have a one-year lease agreement with the BDA with an option to buy. The BDA is working with them to find an investor or partner who can help them acquire the property, or who will buy the property and provide them with a long-term lease, with the goal of keeping the land under biodynamic stewardship. For more information, click here or contact Robert Karp at firstname.lastname@example.org.