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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dare 2 Dream visits Fairview Gardens

As we expand into organic farming, we have looked to another local organic farm for inspiration and direction. Fairview Gardens is nestled in the Goleta Valley; their twelve acre operation is fully dedicated to sustainability, education, and their community. They are a truly urban farm, surrounded on all sides by ever-expanding development. Though a fairly small farm, the impact that Fairview has on their community is enormous. They continuously educate children and adults through their farm camps, cooking classes, and after school programs. Their delicious, fresh produce is sold through their farm stand, CSA’s, farmer’s markets, and restaurants.

The Dare 2 Dream crew headed out to Fairview Gardens to further educate ourselves on organic farming. Julie Beaumont, the Director of Farming Operations, gave us a great tour of Fairview, showing us everything from their seed houses to their irrigation systems, and letting us taste some of their farm fresh strawberries (Fairview is famous for their plump, sweet strawberries) oranges, and kale. We even got to get some hands-on experience helping in the garden, spreading mulch around the pomegranate trees. 
WWOOFers Heather and Morgan mulching and having a blast!

Afterwards we were rewarded with a beautiful, mouth-watering lunch; chard soup with cumin, cilantro and lime, turnips with a miso glaze, smokey kale and sweet potato cakes, arugula salad, carrots with grapefruit juice, and an orange and rosemary compote drizzled with honey for dessert. It was phenomenal. All the ingredients were freshly picked from Fairview Gardens’ fields that morning.

During our short visit to Fairview Gardens, some of the things that really astounded us about their project was being able to see organic practices on a large scale, getting new structure ideas, learning about the necessity of crop variety, and feeling the satisfaction of knowing your food. The Dare 2 Dream crew had an amazing time at Fairview Gardens and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us as we embrace our new future in organic farming! 

By: Shelby Corwin
WWOOFer
Photos by: Mackenzie Reiss
WWOOFer
WWOOF-USA | Dare 2 Dream Farms  

Lef to Right: Casey, Megan, and Jeremy of Dare 2 Dream Farms

Their lovable goats were fun to watch and play with before lunch.
  
WWOOFers Kristen and Shelby

WWOOFer Andrea

Julie Beaumont with WWOOFers Joachim and Victor

WWOOFer Morgan

Jeremy Raff spreading mulch under the pomegranate trees 

WWOOFer Victor admiring Fairview Gardens

Megan Raff having fun hard at work

WWOOFer Andrea gets a different angle on the mulching
   
WWOOFer Alan having a great time on the tour

WWOOFer Shelby enjoying the sun after some hard work

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our First Produce Sale

We made our first produce sale today! From it's meager beginnings, our small organic family garden has grown to nearly 30,000 square feet. We have a huge hoop house for starts, and our WWOOF-USA interns have planted tons of varieties of organic produce, herbs, and nearly two hundred raspberry plants. We just started harvesting some incredible snow peas, spinach, romaine lettuce, and radishes. There are four different types of radishes: Pink Celebration, Cherry Belle, Zlata, and Sparkler. We stopped into our local Vitamin & Herb Shop near our gym, and they are going to sell our eggs, radishes and spinach! (We've eaten too many snow peas off the vine to sell them!) 
Starting a large garden and selling produce an addition to chickens and coops has been our dream for a while. We would like to start our own local CSA once we have a large enough variety to offer to our customers, and eventually incorporate produce into our backyard farming program to get people started with raised garden beds and vegetable starts. Here we goooo....

Wish us luck!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Brood sounds a lot like Rude… Coincidence? I think not.

“To the broody hen the notion would probably seem monstrous that there should be a creature in the world to whom a nestful of eggs was not utterly fascinating and precious and never-to-be-too-much-sat-upon object, which it is to her.” –William James

… and that creature is me. Not to say that I don’t think eggs are a wonderful thing, because let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be working on a chicken farm if I didn’t. For me, eggs are an essential part of breakfast and baking cakes… but not much else. However, I’m not the one who squeezes an egg out of my body almost 260 days a year.

            Before laying an egg a hen will experience an increase in hormones, which usually returns to normal after the egg is laid. If the hormone level remains high, you may find yourself with a broody hen. This hen will do what she can to protect the eggs that she just forced out of her little chicken body. Broody hens will puff up their feathers, make terrifying noises, peck at you (which actually does hurt), and rip out their breast feathers in order to keep the eggs warm. She will not leave the nesting box except to eat, drink, and go potty once each day. Where as this is annoying for someone trying to collect eggs, the hens are just doing what their hormone crazed bodies are telling them to do. 


            Hens will often find a dark and private location to attempt to hatch their eggs. A larger hen will be able to incubate around 10 medium sized eggs, whereas a normal sized hen can incubate around 5. While this fact may fill your head with heartwarming scenes of baby chicks running around your backyard, unless the hen has had “relations” with a rooster, the eggs that she intends to hatch will be infertile. So if you want your hen to keep producing your morning eggs, there are ways to manage this. To get your hen to stop sitting on her nest of eggs:

  • Collect eggs daily, as many times as possible.
  • Remove the hen from the nest when you collect the eggs.
  • Close off access to the coop and nesting boxes during the day.
  • Separate the broody hen from the rest of the chickens for a few days and place it in a wire-bottom cage with only fresh food and water.
On the other hand, if your hen has had “relations” with a rooster these eggs could
actually become the cute little baby chicks you imagined. It will take a hen 21 days to hatch the fertile eggs. The hen should be kept in a safe place and have food and water nearby. And 3 weeks later… baby chicks!

Broody Mother & Chicks
Buff Orpington Mother Hen

Eggs are wonderful. Chickens are wonderful. Broodiness is not… but it’s better to have a broody chicken than no chicken at all.

By: Kristen Kelly
WWOOFer 
WWOOF-USA | Dare 2 Dream Farms