47th Avenue Farm’s Laura Masterson started her farm on a double lot in a residential neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, twenty years ago. The farm expanded to many different plots of land, then consolidated; now, Laura farms about 20 acres of vegetables on land on two main parcels in the Portland suburbs, providing a year-round CSA to over 200 families and produce to restaurants in the Portland Metro area.
Laura’s commitment to the triple bottom line is apparent as we talk about Laura’s work in government and with non-profit organizations, her plantings of beneficial insect habitat on her farm, her weed control strategies, and record-keeping’s roll on her farm for making management decisions.
47th Avenue Farm was one of the first in the Portland area to move away from the internship labor model to providing full-time, year-round employment opportunities, and Laura goes in depth with how she has worked with her farm manager to create an open and encouraging work environment.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
The challenge is to move towards the middle and figure out how to give people enough responsibility and ownership but then be checking in a way that doesn’t feel like micromanaging and that leads to good results and outcomes. To me, a big piece of that is self-knowledge.
One of the most important things for me to be a better manager is to be more self-aware.
Part of what we have on the farm is that quiet, that opportunity that is so different from where the rest of the world is heading, to observe and think and see the architecture of the plant and to see deeply what is happening on the farm in a way that you can’t do if you are plugged in.
I had to learn the hard way just how expensive it is to have a [weed] seed bank like that in your vegetable crops.
Managing weeds has changed my life.
We discussed the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program, a project of the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
Laura talked, as many people on the show do, about Ben Hartman’s The Lean Farm.
Laura shared the Enneagram personality test that she used on her farm to help people identify their strengths and challenges.
Information about the Nordell’s cover cropping program for weed control can be found here in their article on Weed the Soil, Not the Crop.
We talked about Audible, an audiobook subscription service that Laura enjoys while she’s commuting to the farm. And I’ll just make a plug here that Audible does sponsor the podcast, and you can support the show by signing up for a free trial at audibletrial.com/farmertofarmer.
Laura spoke highly of The Ideal Soil by Michael Astera, and The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon.