Monday, June 21, 2010

New Farm

Today I canceled our offer on a small farm near Snohomish. We had made the offer in February and it is now June and we still don't have a closing date from the foreclosing bank. Short Sale. They keep loosing the paperwork. it has just taken too long. Saturday we saw the place pictured. it is 15 miles north of our house and easily accessible via the freeway or back roads. It is 1.5 acres with a nice 3-bd rm house, 5-car carport, shop and barn. Most of the land has been in pasture with 3 ft high grass now. The soil is sandy loam and appears to be well drained. The property has a 180 degree view of the Cascade range -- from Mount Rainier to mount Baker. It has its own well and septic system. We'll keep the shop and barn for our use and try to rent half the pasture with the house to someone who wants animal(s). That'll require a new shed. But all-in-all this place will need much less development than the other place we had the offer on. Hopefully, we can close by Labor Day and get the land under cultivation by fall.

The best thing: NO CANARY GRASS!!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Could Snohomish County Feed Itself in Fruit and Vegetables?

How many people live in Snohomish County? 683,655 - Jul 2008

How many acres of farmland are in Snohomish County?

Between 2002 and 2007, the period profiled in the latest national agriculture census, nearly 100 new farms were added to the more than 1,500 already operating in Snohomish County. An additional 8,200 new acres of land was placed in production, bringing the total in 2007 to almost 77,000 acres.
The average size of farms also increased 6 percent from 44 to 46 acres per farm....NR_AgCensus 2.23.09

By the food pyramid, how much vegetables and fruit does a person need in a day?

How many square feet of land does it take to produce 100% of the vegetables one person eats in a year?

My guess: 1000 sq ft -- .022 acre if it is gardened intensively.

How many squart feet of and does it take to produce the fruit that a person eats in a year? Apples,
Pears, Apricots, Blueberries, Raspberries, strawberries?

my guess; 1000 s ft -- .022 acre

Can we do it?

683655*.044=30,080 acres. So the answer is yes. that would leave 40,000 acres for meat, energy and export production.


How much land can a gardener garden without the use of mechanized assistance?

My guess: 3 acre working 20-30 hours/week for 8 months of the year.

So then how many farmers does it take?

So it would take roughly 10,100 farmers each farming 3 acres.

(This agrees closely with an earlier estimate I had made regarding just the city of Everett.

How self-sufficient do we want to be? I suggest that we should aim to produce all our vegetables, most
of our fruit and none of our grain in Snohomish County. We can import grain from Eastern Washington. There
are varieties of hard wheat that can grow here, but i would be reluctant to depend on that when there is
a great supply of grain fairly close 9within the state).

What is our time line? by 2020? (30%) by 2050 (80%).

Start making plans to do it.

Rain, Rain, Rain

It seems like we've had rain every day for the past two weeks. We haven't had 2-3 days in a row to really dry things out. The water table at Starbird Farm is at least 6 inches above where it was last year at this time -- which puts it just about at ground level. The lane into the gardens is still under 2-4 inches of water. Weeds are taking over everywhere. I haven't been able to do any good with a hoe and of course I can't get anywhere near the garden with a rototiller.

Now I am going out f town for a week and now the sun will probably come out and the weeds will really grow. It's not looking like a good gardening year.

Unfortunately, this will be our last year at Starbird Farm. Chris, the fellow who leased us this 1/4 acre plot now wants to SELL the plots for $24,000 each. That seems a bit expensive for a piece of land you can only get to 5 or fewer months of the year, is under water much of the time and is full of canary grass. Half that amount would still seem steep.

The upland acre we are tying to buy still hasn't settled. It is a short sale and our purchase has been "kicked out" of the system twice now, for no apparent reason -- this after it has been accepted by the seller and their bank. It's definitely too late to get a garden in this year there and I am fast loosing patience with the whole process.

I haven't talked about this here, but I am also looking at the possibility of some large scale community gardening/teaching/foodbank farming on a 400 acre piece of ag land that is owned by the City of Everett. The area is known as the Marshland Subarea and is immediately south of Lowell River Road east of Everett. Part of this land has been brought within the city limits, although no houses can be built there because it is in the 100-year flood plain. There is a history to why this land is now part of Everett which I won't go into here, but this is land that is currently being leased to two local farmers for $0/year and which I believe could much better serve the people of Everett by being used for food raising.