Collin Thompson manages Michigan State University’s North Farm near the village of Chatham in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The North Farm hosts a two-year residential incubator program in the extremely short season of the Northwoods, with their last frost in the first week of June, and the first frost right about now, in the second week of September. We talk about the ins and outs of running a market farm as part of the University, practical successes for overwintering crops in high and low tunnels for early spring production, and ways Collin has worked with and around the 190 inches of annual snowfall in Chatham. We also had a chance to get into the culture of root cellaring in the north, and I had a chance to take a nice rant about food safety and barrel washers.
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Quotes from the Show
Start small, get your ducks in a row, then go through an expansion.
A quarter acre is the perfect amount of ground to manage in your first year while you’re paying attention to the million other details.
If you can start slow and grow steadily, you’ll be a lot better off than if take on more than you can chew that first year.
Everyone gets so excited in those first few years, but that can fade quickly if you’re overwhelmed from day one.
Collin worked for Greg Garbos of Four Season Tools. We talked extensively about the ways that Collin and others have built on Eliot Coleman’s work with winter greens production, as described in Eliot’s Winter Harvest Handbook.
We gave a nod to the potential of FarmersOnly.com, although we aren’t necessarily providing an endorsement.
Collin got his transplant production light from HGT Supply. We discussed the root cellar at northern Minnesota’s Food Farm, described in their blog and in an article from CivilEats.com.
Collin mentioned the Organic University at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, at the end of February in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Collin and Chris discussed food safety and the appropriate material for manufacturing barrel washers. This article provides citations comparing the use of wood cutting boards compared to plastic, which points strongly to the conclusion that wood is at least as safe, and possibly better than, plastic for cutting boards. It seems logical that this would extend to barrel washers.
Collin’s favorite tool is the Groundskeeper II Rake, which he uses like a hand-powered tine weeder.
The most recent book Collin read was the 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss which he valued for Ferriss’ approach to learning as much as to cooking.