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Early Autumn on the Farm

September 30, 2011

By Rebecca Briggs
Communications Coordinator, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association

This is the 3rd in a series on Jonah Bloch and Amber Lippert, two energetic young biodynamic farmers who, with a one-year lease and an option to buy, are farming on the Biodynamic Association’s 35-acre property in Oregon.

They are now mid-way through their lease year. The BDA is still seeking a buyer for the property who is interested in entering into a long-term lease with Jonah and Amber so that their inspiring stewardship of the property may continue. To find out more, read Part I and Part II, check out the BDA’s page about the property, and email for more information.

Life continues to evolve on Jonah and Amber’s CSA farm. Late summer sunflowers and heat-loving vegetables hang on for these unusually sunny and warm final September days. The farm workers turn under the potato beds and pull the broccoli plants for composting. The hoop house awaits the transplanting of fall greens. And last but surely not least, Jonah and Amber celebrated their wedding on the farm last month.

By and large, it has been a very successful season. This is all the more notable for the speed with which Jonah and Amber were able to get a full and diverse vegetable operation going after signing their lease in April, a late date in a farmer’s year, which normally involves planning all through the preceding winter. But they rose to the occasion. Having some farming and gardening experience, I am still truly amazed at what they pulled off. Farming can present challenges even with the best of timing, and Oregon’s weather did not cooperate well this year.

But despite cool early summer temperatures, unexpected power outages, and the mid-season loss of a key worker, the CSA shares so far have been consistently full – sometimes almost too much so. In the case of the pickling cucumbers, there have been almost too many of a good thing, especially with so many other fun cukes to try, like the tiny Mexican sour gherkins. The tomatoes have finally hit their stride, although nearly a month late thanks to the tough early summer conditions. Since the lease timing meant Jonah and Amber could not get their transplants in the ground until July, there simply was not enough time for some of the vegetables to reach their desired states. Some of these, like the sweet cayenne pepper, are quite enjoyable in their not-quite-ripe (i.e. green) stages and so still merit some excitement in the CSA box. And Jonah maintains hope that there might be some melons, although even at best, they are not sure a bet in this region.

Having been involved with the BDA for four years now, it has been personally thrilling to see the community building and the transformation of this land under Jonah and Amber’s care. As the catchphrase of the pioneering biodynamic farmers who started the CSA movement in the U.S. says, “it’s not just about vegetables.” It is about much, much more. I maintain hope that the right partner is out there for them. Who knows…the melons may yet ripen.

Jonah cuts and collects broccoli plants for the compost pile, with hoop house in the background

Row of cutting flowers

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