Thursday, June 18, 2009

Concentrates' future MOVE and summer solstice

Hi there! Bcaw! Mehh!

How has your spring been? This June has been so nice and mellow compared to last year's Juneuary... This season I was inspired by Sukita, during our floor work, to really savor the lengthening days leading to summer solstice. A wonderfully bittersweet moment of change.

Our company is connected with agriculture to the sun and the times of solstice.

Right now in late June, our business begins to slow down into summer solstice. Plants are in the ground and stretching toward their harvests. Animals remain steady, but have lush pastures, seeds and for chickens.. insects galore... mmm! This is our time to gather ourselves back together after the intense flurry of spring and prepare. In December as we near winter solstice, we begin buzzing. What still feels like the middle of a long winter to many, feels like winter has come and quickly gone to me and I admit sometimes I would like it to be a pinch longer... That quiet dark to read and think. The days begin to subtly lengthen again and all of you growing, vibrate with energy and preparation and we're back on.

So, in this quieting down time, we have some big news to share. We will be moving.

Many of you have noticed that our building has been for sale for a while now. You've asked, we've been nonchalant.. saying things like: the economy! it's 3,250,000 for 2.5 acres! it's been on the market a long time... and - we'll have lots of notice, no worries, we'll be here for quite a while..... And we've been doing a bit of home renovation style sprucing, including our earthen floor project.

Well, we've come to realize that Land O' Lakes is completely out of the mill and storage, now fully located at Rivergate in North Portland and logically would like to sell their property. They have given us an amazing rent during our stay, but we are a little bird living on a nice elephant. If the building sells anytime between December and this time next year, we would have a very hard time being the sweet, respectable bird we'd like to be. We might be squatting and squawking! No decorum. It wouldn't be pretty. Our feathers would be in the air and yours would be, too. And then no one would be able to see. How would we plant? Who would feed the animals? Oh dear.

Right now we are in a 40,000sq' warehouse, fantastically located in the central southeast, right off I-5, right by the Willamette River and downtown Portland. To keep being the company you love, we also need to expand and develop the wholesale and retail sides to serve you better. Last year, 2008, was quite busy! So, in the fall we hired my mom, Mary, since we were still busier than expected, to help part-time in the shop. This year we were wildly busy and I've roped my mom in near full-time.. ah and she thought she's retired from teaching... We also went through some changes in the warehouse team and it made it all very busy for us and not as efficient and balanced as we'd like. Thank you so much for your patience this year! You guys are dedicated. We sincerely appreciate it. We also know that the retail side has grown so much, that we truly need at least one weekend day to be open. We need to have "bankers' hours" right now in order to be wholesale and there currently are only enough of us to go around for our current hours. We will be open Saturday in the future!

So! This all leads to our plan to expand to two spaces. Bill will be running the wholesale side with a large warehouse further out, possibly in Clackamas. This will not be open to the public. It will be our distribution point to serve stores who sell our products and companies who manufacture fertilizers, potting soils and such. Bill will be able to focus on our product supply, which will help us all have awesome supplies at great prices.

I will be running the retail side with my mom and husband Neil (the tapes I play in the middle of the night are working...sweet dreams of chickie feed..mmm glacial rock dust..we must help others grow more plants..goats like you) Ahem.. did I just admit that? I love my family, they rock. We will be open to the public, for our farmers, home gardeners, landscape and garden designers and all feed supply. Everyone who directly uses our products to grow plants and feed animals. This way we can focus on you and add neat products and services over time. We are committed to continuing standard 50# bags, pallet quantities, special orders at the best prices we can and lots of friendly help in a colorful, homespun atmosphere. We hope to have space to teach and host workshops and be a community spot for resources and education. Our ideas are bursting and we'll see what outlets we can find depending on our new space.

We are each looking for warehouses. Bill in the 20 - 40,000sq' range and me in the 4 - 10,000sq' size, with more flexibility if there is yard / outdoor storage space. We are open to any spaces you know about.
For the smaller warehouse shop space, we've looked at about 20 in close-in N / NE and 20 in close-in SE. We think our needs are simple, but it is a tricky space to find. We hope to move before the end of the year so we are prepared for the coming season.

I made a SURVEY, that you can fill out in the shop or print out here and mail / drop off (free google doc so formatting will be funny) Or! Click HERE to take survey - via the Survey Monkey online! We're drawing for a $25 Gift Certificate each Friday, the 19th will be our second drawing. We'd really like to get your thoughts and ideas and have a way to contact you about where we will move. That way you can keep coming and not wonder about it. We'll also post here as soon as we find our new spot!

My housemate Anna surprised us by bringing her goats in to the shop! They are ridiculously cute and have since been making house visits. Kyle holding Nelly, with Dale petting Sebastian in the background... Little goats at our new shop? hmm....

Alright, on to the oodles of other things I have piled up to share with you!

Tour de Coops is only a month a way, yay!!! Saturday, July 25th from 11 - 3pm. So happy we can celebrate being in this tour again and chat with everyone. I'd love to see the other coops on the tour and hope we can find a way for the people in the tour to visit each other this year before or after, too. Find all the info on Growing Gardens website above. There is also a great new Monthly Garden Tips section by Master Gardener Pam Garten (and yes her last name looks an awful lot like that word with a d)

On the home front, some of you have also been asking about the unusually large FOR SALE sign in the front yard by our chickens up in N Portland. Our landlord, after telling neighbors not to tell us.. is selling our house and put a very BIG sign and a second one in our front garden. A mere 600k, with a roof that has been flying off in pieces in the wind and a fancy basement that is only zoned for storage. It's a motley garden we've made here and we are grateful to have had the dirt!! In this time of him selling and being unkind, though, we did kind of wish it could still look the way it was before we moved in. No chickens, plants or pink and red seahorse included!... okay, we know that has nothing to do with the sale... and all sorts of birdies and people would be sad and we have an irresistible urge to plant, so... watch out future home! : )

Speaking of tours... we just went on the first Tour de Goats! So awesome!!! Created by my friend Emily Gowen and led by Gregg Lavender as part of Pedalpalooza. She also started a new PDX Goats google group. We started at her house which is home to the Going Goaty collective, check out their site. Here's a photo of their NE Portland goat and hen homestead. There was a goat workshop led by Emily and Jill and I helped with the feed part. Then we biked to a goat garden demonstration spot and a number of goat homes. We finished at Foster & Dobbs. Mmm... yum! They provided plates of different local goat cheeses and bread and described each cheese and farm. It was a beautiful ride with a tasty finish. One of the goat houses is also home to Generacion and another is at Project Grow's North Portland Farm - part of Port City's programs for adults with developmental disabilities (check out their blog and art show at the Fresh Pot). They had an opening party for their farm and screening of the documentary on NW farms Growing Awareness, the night before. Tim Donovan works with Port City and helped make the documentary, this new farm, is my neighbor and also works at Pistils Nursery. We donated some goodies to help them get started and it was so cool to see everything growing and meet their Nigora fiber goats, Jeff and Buckaroo (see the kids and kids climbing photo).

I've added lots of links to our farm customers under the FARM link up top. Also got the DIRECTIONS up there and working on the other sections, slowly but surely... If your on the list and have a website, let me know and I'll add the link : )

I also want to make a section for our garden designers and landscapers, feel free to email me your websites. Maybe I call it GARDENSCAPERS... is that legal?

There are baby turkeys at Zenger Farm and I've been getting calls of more turkey raising about. Here is an article they're using at Zenger and here is a link to Pearson's Square, that I used to help them figure out some feed conversions to boost the protein of the organic feeds to be the correct percent for the wee gobblers.

Back in late March I had a mix up my sleeve and here's the report:
it's become 'Naomi's Organic Mineral Mix' and we've made 11 TONS! Wow. First, to all of you who referred others to come get it, I thank you. You're awesome. I don't know how to express it. The bag is generic and I haven't had time to promote it (Neil and I have a neat drawing we'll make for the label eventually). So many people we've never seen, came in specifically asking for it. Yeah dirt and plant lovers!!!

We made the first test ton primarily powdered, with only the lime prilled. It flew out the door, but for the mixers it was too dusty, so we made another test batch with granulated soft rock phos and lime, still a bit dusty. On the next, switched to prilled Azomite and with 3 of the 5 ingredients prilled, went for another 3 tons. It continued to fly out of the building at a rapid pace of it's own accord. We had another 6 tons made and are getting down to maybe a pallet plus remaining. In our next batch... we are really excited to hopefully have the Glacial Rock Dust prilled. That is what currently coats the blend grey and a bit powdery. That and Greensand are currently as is. But! We have some giant ton totes of the glacial to prill and then the Greensand will cozy up to the other little nuggets. It should be a lot easier for them to make and even easier for you to use. I have not added mycorrhizal or kelp to the mix so that this mix will out last us. You can easily add those nifty components on your own to get the freshest, most economical benefit. I also like mixing Alfalfa and Linseed Meal together and we've been really happy to be getting that bagged up by Buxton Feed in Banks, ready to go with approx. 4.5-1-2 analysis. General recommendation is to mix 5 pounds of each and apply the combined mineral and seed mix at ~10# per 100sq'. Keeping some separate so that you can add more minerals to containers and other deficient areas and more nitrogen as a later side-dress and for the crops that need it. Add kelp at ~1# per 100sq' (magic sea fairy dust...) and a pinch of mycorrhizal. You can also mix and match your own N-P-K components per your soil test, intuition and amendment pantry. I also plan to sell it in a smaller size for more home gardeners and make up some kits for different sized gardens. Let me know your ideas!

Salem is having quite a hard time getting backyard chickens legalized. I have heard it has caused enough intrigue for the Wall Street Journal to write about it! While poking about to find that, I came across this post by Sunset's Team Chicken - here's an excerpt, "At Murray McMurray Hatchery (est. 1917), they raise 110 varieties of chickens, many rare and heritage, and they sell 100,000 chicks a month when they're incubating and shipping as many chicks as they can." I was interviewed recently for a documentary film by Barbara Palermo. I'll let you know more as her film develops. She is a mighty force in the hen loving Salem movement. Check it all out on Salem Chickens - also check the Resources for many Hen Rescue sites. I hope we can create more of a connection here between people who can take in older hens as pets to charmingly weed and fertilize the garden and for farmers who want the same and don't want to get into eggs too much. Open to your thoughts on this. And hey! using Barabara's research for Salem and lots of hard work and support, Forest Grove is allowing chickens!

Edible Portland's Summer issue is out - (always free!). At first it seemed cruel to see tomatoes so soon, but it's warmed up and people have been drooling over the lush tomatoes on the front and hugging the magazine with eyes glazed over in visions of future yumminess... So many good articles and check out Zoe Bradbury's latest asparagus post on Diary of a Young Farmer. She's also got an article in the latest In Good Tilth issue (which we're already out of, need to get quantity bumped up again!). We're almost out, but on their list for a second drop of magazines. There is a whole list of other neat places to pick up the issue listed on their website.

The 2009-2010 Tilth Producer's of
Washington Directory is also out! Become a member online. Their quarterly publication is great, too and some articles are available on the website.

We planted a lot of Phacelia, also known as Bee's Friend, this year as part of our pollinator-flowerland. Beautiful fragrant purple flowers and more fuzzy Bumblebees, in particular, than we've ever seen. I got to go to Glen Andresen's Bee class this spring through the Urban Growth Bounty series. If you are interested in bees and get a chance to take one of his classes and also see his hives, I highly recommend it. He also teaches workshops through Garden Fever, METRO and Livingscape. And he's The Dirtbag on KBOO, listen online and live call ins the second Wednesday of each month 11 - 11:30am. And sunflowers are opening up! Here's one of our first opening up in the alley with a Sweat Bee.

And speaking of Livingscape! They're hosting a screening of FOOD, Inc. at Cinema 21 on Tuesday, June 23rdLink to benefit Slow Food Portland's school nutrition program. You can buy advance, discounted tickets at the nursery while supplies last.

The Better Together Garden at Portland City Hall is growing! It's so neat to see something the Food Policy Council worked on come to life. "The Better Together Garden includes 700 square feet of vegetables and is surrounded by columnar apples, a fig tree, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, and strawberries. The garden was installed over four days by community volunteers and all labor and materials were donated."

Backyard Poultry magazine has some great summer tips - check out their article, It's Hot Out There: Caring for Your Poultry in Hot Weather, by Dave Anderson online.

Chickens are a lot more sensitive to the heat we get here than the cold.

I also wrote a 6 page chickens tips sheet for workshops and quickly ran out of copies. Until I get more printed, just ask and I'll print one out for you.

Urban Farming, a bit closer to the sun
- rooftop gardening article. I found a link there to a San Francisco group - Bay Localize, who puts out a free Use Your Roof Guidebook you can download online!

COMPOST - Teufel, made in Hillsboro.. it was out for over a month and a half, we had a 6 page waiting list... then we got around 36 pallets, gone, and we're back to waiting again. We love Teufel, stock up as much as we can and out there you all stock up... but this fall we hope to find some additional alternatives and would love your feedback on sources. Black Gold sells very well when the other is out, but the price seems to keep it in second place. They are working on a more affordale compost, we'll see what they come up with, too. I recommend Nature's Needs in North Plains for bulk pick-up or delivery. They have OMRI listed organic compost and humus (hewmus). Dreamy stuff and I hope to carry their bagged product in the future!

Soil Testing: I am thinking of getting a quality soil probe or two to rent out in the future, so you can easily take excellent soil samples to send to the lab of your choice. Maybe we'll be able to provide a service to come out and test, too. In the meantime, I'm happy to help interpret results you get back from any lab and go over what products you can use. If you can send your lab results and a description of your sq' / acreage and any further description to me by email, fax or snail ahead of time, that is great.

FEED feedback! Please let me know your feed thoughts. I'll write more about this in the future, in regards to CHS - Reg. & Organic Payback (Harrisburg, OR) / Alber's - Reg. & Organic Pride (North Portland) / Smaller mills (OR/WA).


Here is a link to the Hodge's wonderful land of boer goats, laying hens, bees, veggies and dahlias, Brookside Farm, in SE Portland on 112th and Foster. This is where we fell in love with Muddles. They brought a photo of him to us and another photo of the boer kids in this huge climbing tree. You can contact them to visit and they are also at the Moreland Farmer's Market

North Portland Tool Library - check out free music at 'Hammer thru Humpday' benefit raffle June 24th at the White Eagle! I've got links to more tool and seed libraries in the NON-PROFIT links I'm starting.

Sunday Parkways - The first one is this Sunday in North Portland! Then July 19th in Northeast Portland and August 16th in Southeast - from 9 - 4pm. Last year was really great and it will be fun to ride around the two new neighborhood routes.

The OSU Small Farms Newsletter! If you've already signed up, you've got it, if not just click that link and they'll email each time the latest edition is available online, they've also got archived issue pdfs online.

I've got fliers with all the Oregon Master Gardener phone lines and will post them here soon. Here's a link to Washington Master Gardener info.

* Organic Gardening: Fall 2009 Series at Zenger Farm * August 15th - September 19th + PLUS lots of cheesemaking classes, food preservation, chicken workshops and cool events!

Thank you so very, very much for all of your support and enthusiasm for organic agriculture!!!

Warm happy dirtishly yours,