Boulder Belt Eco-Farm (formerly Boulder Belt Gardens, than Boulder Belt Organics) was born in 1993 when Eugene and Lucy Goodman moved from College Corner, OH to a farm near New Paris, OH, where they lived and learned about sustainable market farming for almost 12 years. But in 2004 things began to change on that farm and Lucy and Eugene decided it was time to start looking for a place of their own. And September 1, 2005 they bought their very own farm just north of Eaton, OH on the 40' pitch on US RT 127
Back in 1993 the the market idea was born. The first garden was a few pepper plants and a 25' row of blue lake green beans that all did extremely well. The pears trees had a bumper crop too. Suddenly we were faced with growing piles of food. Being from town, I had no idea about putting up food other than some vague romantic notions of homesteading. Romance became pragmatism and soon we owned a chest freezer. I froze a lot of beans and peppers that year and we joked about finding a farmer's market and selling veggies the next year.
The next year we put in what we considered a huge garden and grew things to put up for winter and to sell. The garden was 50'x75' and was a lot bigger than any garden either on of us had had in the past. We thought we had a HUGE market garden. We did harvest and take things most Saturdays to the Richmond Farmer's Market, in Richmond, IN. But we did not make much money (I did not keep records back than, so I suspect we lost money on the project) nor did we have consistent product as we do now. But we had fun and started meeting interesting people and decided to try it again and expand the following season
Over time we grew from the original 25' x 75' garden plot to several acres of beds scattered over a 10 acre space. We also got into raising chickens for pastured meat and eggs (though we dropped the egg layers in 2002 because we wanted to be free of hens when we finally found another place to move). Now that we have found our farm we plan on having hens in the future. We also have lots of other plans that will be revealed as time goes on. Among other things we plan to do on our 9+ acres, we plan on having several commercially made greenhouses (as opposed to movable,unheated, homemade hoop houses) perhaps dug into the hillside, and we are growing our Farm Share Initiative as we go away from farmers markets and more towards all on farm sales
Moving a small farm that has been established for over a decade is no mean feat. We must have had over 5 semi tractor trailer loads of stuff to move. We had a moving party one Sunday that got around 10 of our friends out to help us move the household (But not much in the way of farming goods, except the 3-door commercial fridge that would not go into the 17' U-Haul box truck in an upright position but by the end of the day the men got their heads together and figured out how to get the thing into the U-Haul and got it hauled over to the Boulder Belt Farm-Yay!.) That was a huge help in getting the household goods over to the new place and even got a few rooms set up. And it was a lot of fun too.
It took another 6 weeks or so to get the rest of the farm over here but by the end of November we were officially moved in, just in time too because about a week after we finished moving the snow started flying.
The first 6 seasons here have been good. We have over 3 acres of beds. There are round 275 50'x 4' and another 12 100'x 4'beds. We expanded the asparagus by 100% in 2008 and in the same year the apples we planted the first year we were here bared their first fruits. The FSI is expanding exponentially and the store gets more business every year..
We are committed to growing our food Sustainably and Locally because food grown sustainably and locally is healthier for both us and the planet. Animals raised on wholesome food, fresh air and sunshine are happier, healthier than confinement farm operation (aka factory farmed) animals that are shut up in huge buildings in crowded, dirty, stressful conditions and fed the cheapest feed laced with antibiotics (to keep diseases at bay). Pastured livestock tastes better too, according to all of our customers. We had been certified by OEFFA until Oct. 2002, but when the USDA took over the organic certification we voluntarily dropped our organic certification. The USDA is encouraging farms to get big or get out and not supporting small farms like ours. And now they have allowed the Bush regime to start the watering down of the organic standards. Soon these standards, that small independent, contrary farmers have worked hard to get credible will be just more corporate smut. We are very glad to not be all wrapped up in the USDA organic BS. Instead of going through the hoops of organic certification done by a third party inspector we invite the public out to our farm to see how we do what we do and ask questions. This is how you can learn more about the food you eat and how to eat wholesome, local nutritious food.
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Boulder Belt Eco-Farm 3257 US 127 N Eaton, Ohio
Freshly pulled Daikon
Dry Hot Summer to Wet Warm Fall
Around the end of June all the rain stopped and it got hot and dry until Sept 3rd when the rains returned again. The heat was probably worse than they lack of rain as it prevented pollen from being made and thus for 8 weeks all our flowering crops (i.e fruit crops) were unable to make fruit and that had a very negative impact on our sales. It got to the point where we had to miss a lot of farmers markets in order to supply our FSI members with food for their shares. Tomatoes which did well in the beginning went down hill quickly, peppers had few peppers for weeks, there were no apples at all (actually that was due to a cool wet spring and lack of pollinators). But we did have one bright spot-we had the most fabulous melon year ever. Almost all the melons we grew-cantaloupe, water melons, Spanish winter melons, Charantais, etc., were sublime. the same can be said about the winter squashes as well. This was because we hit the very small window we were given this past season for planting such crops. A fellow CSA farmer bought a lot of water melons from us because she missed that window by 48 hours and got 3 water melons out of her patch (but she said she did have a lot of cantaloups as they were planted a couple of days earlier). This is when farming becomes a real crap shoot-you just don't know what the weather will bring and how it will effect your crops but you go on through the fog anyway and hope it all works out.
The hot summer finally ended in early September. August was a struggle as we had put in almost 40 beds of crops for the fall/winter. But with zero rain we had to hand water all those seeded beds in order to get germination and once the seeds germinated we still had to water to keep things alive. And it was looking grim. Eugene and I would spend 5 to 7 hours every day laying water on seeds and hoping it would be enough. Some things like the cabbages did really badly and we would come our daily to see our watering was not enough and another 25% had died over night. But most things held on (barely) until September when the rains returned and we entered into the perfect conditions for carrots, Asian greens, kale, broccoli, lettuce, rutabagas, leeks (which were planted in the early spring but started failing in August due to high heat and no rain). Now as we enter Winter I can say we have had a great fall crop wise and it looks like we will have enough water in the ground to have a decent spring. Very, very different from last year when we had a dry summer that went into a dry fall and things were not great.
We have seen pretty much the coldest, wettest and stormiest April and May on record this year. In April we had well over 14 inches of rain. It was a month of below normal temps and above normal precip. It pretty much rained every day for a stretch of 20 days. it made it impossible to till the soil and almost impossible to do anything else. we had a few rain free days where things like transplanting onions and leeks was possible but we went for long stretches where zero work outside could be done. Fortunately the late winter crops were well established and producing well so we were able to do a winter market in Oxford and provide shares for 12 full and 1/2 Farm Share Initiative shares with a decent supply of food. Granted, the shares are smaller than last year but it is remarkable we have anything at all as most farmers, big and small, have not been able to get much planted or if they got things planted they were washed away or drowned on site. But we had kale, leeks, lettuce, spring mix, and a few other things we started in hoop houses back in Feb and March when the weather was less saturated and they were able to withstand the copious amounts of water (and in many cases thrive). So we have had a constant supply of crops to harvest. Asparagus started coming in in mid April. Got flooded several times did not care and by mid May was going strong
With the asparagus we have opened the farm store for the 2011 season. New this year is our honor system. We have a friendly box that has prices of items for sale on it and change. You look around the store pick up what you want, go to the box on the counter and pay the box. take a bag if you need one. It's that simple. It means we can leave the store open 7 days a a week (10 am to 6 pm) which everyone seems to like. Our sales are up and we can get a lot more farm work done now that no one has to man the store (though quite a bit of the time some one is in the store as the back is where we clean and pack the produce). The customers I have talked to about this seem thrilled to have more hours to shop. It's one of those rare win win situationsIt is now Mid winter and it has been a cold and snowy one for 2010/11. We finished out our winter share program in late January, right ahead of what some called Snowmageddon 2011. For us Snowmageddon came in the form of sleet, ice, snice, snow and wind but did not damage any crops, hoop houses or farm buildings. Nor did we lose power for more than 5 minutes. We have had snow on the ground since mid December and I don't believe we have had more than 10 days above freezing since last year. one might think that this would be an impediment to winter farming but it really hasn't been. We have been able to harvest kale, leeks, spinach, spring mix, lettuce and beets from our hoop houses and from under row cover as well, supplying our Winter Share members with greens in every share, a new accomplishment for us. In past years the greens were done several weeks before the winter share season was over. But in past years we had a lot more winter squash, parsnips, leeks, etc for our members than this year due to the hot, humid and droughty conditions we had all summer (those conditions followed the cool flooding conditions of spring-2010 was a very hard growing year). And thus things balanced out. We were a bit short of the storage crops for our members so karma allowed the leafy green and other fresh crops to survive, grow and be harvestable when usually things are quite dormant.
Now we face more snow and ice as well as lengthening days and the promise of warmer days ahead. And it is during this time the first seeds are sowed indoors, do our taxes and grow our Farm Share Initiative
A lot has happened since winter. It was one of the snowiest we have had in years and we had extra fun this past winter with our new puppy Betty. She is a rescue pup and will mature around 100 pounds. One side seems to be newfoundland and who knows what the other half is. At any rate she is a joy to be around and is shaping up to be a great farm dog, perhaps as great as Arlo. So among other things, this spring has been spent teaching Betty how to act around the market gardens. She is a quick learner and generally stays out of the planted beds. This is good because we cannot have a dog willfully destroying crops, row covers etc..
So Betty is our new company in the garden when we go out to so things like hoe, put down fertilizer, plant and harvest
Betty Postscrip. Betty was tragically killed in August 2010. See this blog post for more details. We miss her spirit.
It's winter time on the farm. Winter is the time when we all (farmers, soil, trees, brambles, etc..) take a break. Of course it is not completely quiet. We are busy with seed orders and seed starting. We do a monthly Farmers Market in Oxford, OH and we have to harvest and pack shares every other week for our Winter Farm Share Initiative as well as welcome members into our 2010 Farm share Intitiative
The 127 Yard Sale
August 6th through 8th we will once again be doing the 127 Yard Sale, AKA; The World's Longest Yard Sale. We have spots open for $15 a day or $50 for the entire 4 day event. In 2009 we got around 10,000 people stopping at the farm over the period. From a vendor's point of view this is the most interesting sale we do each year. We get people from all over the USA and Canada and even a few from Europe and Asia. From a yard saler's pov this is a gold mine-over 600 miles of yard sales both big and small. You never know what you will find. 2 years ago guy with a rainbow colored Mohawk and loads of tattoos was looking for a muffler for his car. He and his girlfriend had traveled hundreds of miles and stopped at numerous sales looking for a muffler. This muffler hunt had become an obsession, apparently. Near the end of the day he and his girlfriend stopped at our sale and low and behold there was the muffler he was looking for. He was thrilled and we were minus 1 muffler we did not need. Rent a space and you too could have similar stories from your 127 yard Sale experience.
Drop me an email to get on the Boulder Belt eNews Letter. I generally send this out once a week If you read the newsletter you will know what we have each week, when the store is open and when we will be going to the farmers markets in Oxford, OH.
I have noticed in my web-stats that I am getting a lot of visitors from Colorado. FYI, This website represents an Ohio farm that happens to be situated on a Boulder Belt (and terminal moraine). We would love to grow local food for all you Coloradians but we are simply too far away. Check out Local Harvest for a farm near you
Check our blog for more news about the farm and our lives as full time Eco-Farmers.
This video was shot June 2011, which was wet early than it dried up and got hot.