Eden's Garden CSA Farm

I hope you enjoyed the story of the farm cats. I’m sure enjoying having these 3 little rascals around my office, but soon they should be all cleared by the vet and ready to go outside to romp around the farm and hang out in the shop at night.

It’s good to have cats in the shop because organic soil amendments left unattended for very long periods of time out in the open, can be subject to curious rodents’ teeth…..

Having Eve staying in the shop at night, generally eliminated this issue. With her now being retired, cotton meal has become, shall we say, mouse meal.

However, I suspect when Tigger, Toro, and Minnie move out there, rodents will once again, find other places to investigate.  

Unfortunately, I don’t think they’d have been much match for the two-legged type of rodents that recently broke into the shop, one of the barns, and a couple of weeks before, into the irrigation storage boxes out by the pond in the gardens.

I’m sorry to say that they helped themselves to whatever wasn’t bolted down, basically. Using one of our deep welled, plastic wheelbarrows this time, and a 55 gallon plastic barrel the first go-round, they hauled off a toolbox full of screwdrivers, hacksaws, and all of those cool assorted nails, screws, nuts and bolts and gadgets one accumulates in the bottom of their toolbox over the years, the air compressor, power inverter, some cash (change from our cash register), bb gun, small chainsaw, which had been gifted to us previously, miscellaneous hand tools, and who knows what else they saw laying around that I’ve not figured out is missing yet. I went to feed Bear and Molly that morning and I’ll be darned if they didn’t even take their food bowls! (I guess stainless steel pet bowls are a hot item?)

Isn’t that how it goes though? You walk past things day after day and forget they’re even there, till you go to need something and remember where you last saw it. I admit, I have about three places where I keep various tools, based on where I generally need them the most, and everything doesn’t always get put back exactly where I meant to put it. But I think that’s probably a good thing, or we’d have been totally cleaned out of power tools, too!

All said, in the twelve years or so that I’ve had this place, it’s only the 2nd time I’ve experienced this sort of violation. I suppose times are tough for a lot of people and they’re doing what they feel they need to do, to survive. I wish they’d have taken eggs and milk or something, though. Feeding themselves a good meal would likely have been better than whatever they got for what they stole.

We have had to scale back everything we keep out at the yurt as a result of the first time thieves visited the less visible part of the farm, when my friends Matt and Jess were running things out there. They took personal belongings of theirs at the time, then later, came back and took surveillance cameras down, since they were not operational any more. (Next time, I’ll be looking for solar powered surveillance cameras for back there.)

Once we set up our solar power and wood burning stove, we hope to host private dinners, more classes, and reinstate our off-grid homestead exhibit for our farm tours. It’s just been too much for me to manage keeping two homesteads going! Even one that no one actually lives in.

But I’m determined not to be discouraged or scared off. My veteran buddies from F.A.R.M. have been in touch, one has even been out here tracking in the wooded areas, and I’m pretty sure this is an isolated thing.

The old horse fencing around the farm isn't dog proof, so suggestions for "watch dogs", or even letting Bear and Molly patrol at night, isn't really an option. This urban farm is too close to the freeway and is located on a pretty busy street. Channel locks and hacksaws can be replaced.

My Bear and Molly are too precious to me to risk escaping or accidentally being let out by a would-be thief fleeing as they were chased down by two giant white dogs in the night. (Although, the chase might make for a revenue generating youtube video....) I wish I had cheerier news on the weather front. Seems it’s forgotten how to rain since last spring. We have only had a tiny bit, as in less than an inch total, since the first week of July. I am afraid with all of the excessive, and heavy, rain of this past spring, some of the pond depth I gained by having it  dredged a few years ago, was lost due to run-off. I’ve scooped some of the silt up to use in compost piles, as it is full of nutrients and organic matter; but we now have a giant sandbar in the middle of the pond – separating the deeper side from the shallower side. Many of the small cat fish perished, the tadpoles are trapped in the one side with the minnows and only the frogs and turtles are crossing over to the other side. We really, really need a good downpour. About 2 inches all at once would get the pond back up and running – and allow me to irrigate again, too.

That’s the trouble with relying solely on natural water sources; you are also at Nature’s mercy…. But I’m sure it will rain here again – they’re actually calling for a pretty good chance again this weekend. I have started many seeds in flats, and ordered some of the cool season specialties from an organic grower out in CA. As soon as there is the ability to irrigate with our drip system again, I’ll get back to planting. In the meantime, it took me all of three hours to hand water arugula, spinach-mustard, cucumbers and summer squash, using empty gallon jugs and a watering can – and the wheelbarrow that we no longer have. I’m strongly considering moving, "digging a well", up on the priority list, just so I’m not ever in this position again.

As a very bright spot to some of this “Debbie downer” news, folks just like you have rallied around the farm’s needs – once again – and pledged extras of things to help replace what was taken! I’m so grateful and happy to share this news.

We have a metal wheelbarrow coming, from our friends building a tiny house – when you’re downsizing, I suppose a full sized wheelbarrow might take up a bit too much precious space! It's going to look great in a new coat of hot pinkpaint!

Plus, I received a personal sized toolbox full of all sorts of goodies, and a extra bb gun he wasn't using, from our guest farmer A.L., who himself had a few hand tools taken out of his storage stall here in the barn; and even an extra chain saw is on the way – after the mechanic looks it over, from our farmer friend Bev, out in Weatherford.

I was urged to put together a wish list on Amazon from some of our Facebook farm fans, so they could help replace what was taken. I also took the liberty to put on there a few of the items they suggested that might help deter future prowlers, like more lighting, security cameras, and an etcher. I’m also going to be painting the farm name on some things – in bright PINK!

And for more good news; many of you may have participated in yesterday’s North Texas Giving Day. The two organizations that have been vital in helping me with the sudden population explosion of feral cats here, Cat Matchers and Feral Friends, because of the special event, received double of the $100 we had collected so far, to help reimburse them for all of the vet bills they’ve taken care of for the kitties I've rescued/trapped. Plus, thanks to a very giving public, they raised much more through yesterdays event! It's a never ending need with all of the stray, lost and abandoned cats, but every little bit helps.  

I’ll continue to leave out the donation bucket at Market Days for the Itty Bitty Kitty Fixin Fund and split the monies we receive between the two groups. Don’t forget, we’re still looking for two namesfor the remaining farm kittens; Tigger and Toro’s brother and sister. $2 donation per suggested name - winner will be drawn soon!

So, the moral of this blog entry can be, Toro agrees, that no matter how sorry, low and sad people or situations can be sometimes, it’s always a pleasant reminder that the good outweighs the bad – and love wins in the end! J 

Thank you for supporting this small, urban farm and all that I strive to do through it for the community! We do expect to have a fall harvest, albeit it may be a little later than we hoped, and CSA shares, beginning with fall or winter/spring season, are still available.

I couldn’t ever do it alone. And I’m glad I don’t feel like I have to try to do it alone either. We're all in this together!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Farmer Marie

Eden's Garden CSA Farm
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On My Soapbox

It’s Fall CSA Share sign up time, for many farms, including mine here in southeast Dallas County. That means I’m on my soapbox. So, kick off your shoes, grab something to drink and check this article out. It’s a bit longer than a “blog” entry, so I guess I'll have to qualify it as a self published article. Oh well. I was on a roll, what can I say?

Back in 2007 or so, a certain book crossed my path. I’d started toying with the idea of starting up a farm using the CSA model and Sharing the Harvest was the go-to instruction manual as well as history book on the subject.

By paraphrasing here for you parts of the Forward, Introduction, written by then co-founder of the CSA movement in the States, Robyn Van En, as well as the beginning of the book written by her co-founder Elizabeth Henderson, you may see how it absolutely touched my soul, as well as my conscience. As just a person who shopped for food, prepared it and ate – like most of America, it was certainly an education.

It took me many years to feel worthy enough to acknowledge myself as a farmer because of how indebted I felt to the many generations of farmers that had fed me all of my life, without my having given it a second thought.

“Most of what we pay for our food goes to companies that transport, process and market what comes off the farm, not to farmers themselves. The people who actually grow food don’t get paid enough to keep on doing it.” (From the book’s Forward, written by Joan Dye Gussow, PHD, Food Producer

“Food Producers + Food Consumers + Annual Commitment to One Another = CSA”

“The CSA equivalent was developed in Japan in 1971, initiated by a group of women concerned about the use of pesticides, the increase in processed and imported foods, and the corresponding decrease in the local farm population.”

These women apparently approached a local farmer and worked out an agreement and what was called the teikei movement was begun. Teiki means “partnership” or “cooperation”, but philosophically, it meant, “food with the farmer’s face on it.”

Chapter one of this book starts by saying that CSA “is a connection between a nearby farmer and the people who eat the food that the farmer grew.”

“Food Producers + Food Consumers + Annual Commitment to One Another = CSA”

“The essence of the CSA relationship is the mutual commitment; the people support the farm and share the inherent risks and potential bounty. By pre-paying for their food, essentially, they helped the farmer not only financially, but saved them countless hours of marketing the sale of the bulk of their crops, by providing a guaranteed market of eager consumers.

Many generations ago, growing food nearby to where one lived, was pretty ordinary, it was as basic as breathing and drinking. If this basic connection were to be broken, trouble was sure to follow.

Well, guess what – it’s pretty broken these days. In the USA, most citizens have no clue where their food comes from, how it is grown, what it takes to go from seed (or cutting/transplants) to the food that they pick up off the shelf at the store, at their favorite eatery or out of a vending machine. They don’t know who grew it, nor can they see it growing, much less touch the soil that produced it. And many could care less, so long as it’s cheap.

With the onset of “free trade” the number of miles food traveled was extended. Plus, it’s often produced in countries where the people’s pay, and sometimes growing standard, is considerably lower than our own. Wages here are already pretty low for agricultural workers, which means our own country’s farmers can’t even sell what they grow within our own country, and many of the workers can't afford to buy it!

But everyone is all excited at the supermarket when there’s a sale on this or that vegetable or fruit, especially if it’s not even “in-season”. Most don’t usually stop to think about where it came from or at what human cost that cheap price came at.

Enter NAFTA and walah! We had tomatoes year round as well as other produce normally only found seasonally, and at much lower prices than before.

Then, the WTO allowed government supported apple juice concentrate from China – to undersell our prize winning state of Washington’s juice. (Contrary to what many may not know, most produce is not subsidized by the “farm bills” often in the news during renewal time.

Those monies generally go to farms producing commodity crops like alfalfa, cotton, and genetically modified animal feed crops, corn, soy and sugar beets, that is later turned into sweetener and cheap, mass produced foods.

Oh yeah – cheap snacks and cases of cheap soda! Woo hoo for us! (And our declining health.)

Farmers of produce, however, were – and still are -  shouldering the risk, entirely on their own, of this brave, new “free trade” market. This forces many off of their land because they just can’t cover costs anymore. It is often more profitable for them to sell out to developers, as we lose farmland at alarming rates every year.

CSA to the rescue! – “the only model of farming in which customers consciously agree to share the risk and benefits with the farmers.”

CSA offers one of the most hopeful chances to save small, family farms from a downward spiral, that only promises to get worse, the more global trade and retail co op programs that pop up, keeping prices lower than American farmers can compete with; large or small.

Community shared the risks of nature, (crop failure, due to weather, disease, pests, etc.), with the farmer, who’s tireless hours of work, was always non-refundable.

CSA programs were started up all over North America in the 90’s at the urging and coaching of Robyn and Elizabeth. They soon gathered brochures and newsletters from CSA programs all throughout Canada and the US in order to write the book, in hopes of helping other struggling farmers, farmers who needed help starting a farm and consumers who wanted to help secure a local source of food for their families.

The culmination of all of what was sent in, became the foundation for the book, which revealed many different nuances of CSA, but all came with the same underlying philosophy;

Community shared the risks of nature, (crop failure, due to weather, disease, pests, etc.), with the farmer, who’s tireless hours of work, was always non-refundable.

This basic element in and of itself, is what sets CSA apart far and wide from any food co op share program, on-line ordering to your door food club service or really even shopping at the local farmer’s market.

There is no shared risk in paying only for what you get, when and if the farmer is able to produce it and get it to market.

Shopping around for the best price or out of season selection from a grocer, means the many layers between you and the farmer leaves pennies on the dollar going to those who grew it, and took all of the risk. Small, indie owned grocery stores, like Green Grocer, The Green Spot, Poteger's Other Stuff, and various others, are your best bet for better farmer compensation, but there still has to be some loss of margin if the retailer is going to stay in business and still compete with other grocers. (Although, you often find exclusive items at these indie stores.)

CSA answers the growing concern of production and distribution of food that is grown to the standards we expect – high quality, carefully and responsibly grown.

Early on in the movement, in the mid 90’s, however, large farms started adding CSA to their other marketing programs, which often watered down the original sense of involvement and shared risk by the consumers.

When there is a lot of competition for the same product, as there is in CA, it was often risky on the part of the farmer to ask for this risk sharing, because some people, who may not fully grasp the importance of that very unique aspect, will find a more secure source of produce if an interruption in the flow of shares comes along. Sometimes doing so, by-passes the local or organic sources, through a co op or other food club, unbeknown to the consumer.

This is something I’ve seen happen a lot in DFW as various non-farmer entrepreneurs came to town a few years ago when the CSA movement was just starting to take hold here.

Farmers who had 150 – 200 members, and were making a decent income, saw those numbers drop considerably as more food co-ops and big out of town farms moved onto the local scene to grasp some of the quickly increasing interest in local food.

Unable to compete with a guaranteed food “share”, especially with the ensuing effects of the drought, and the input of imported fruits and veggies when our state’s weather or season didn’t produce them, many have all but gone out of business, or nearly killed themselves trying to compete.

Keeping up with the Joneses is financial suicide in farming when the Joneses are compiled of several out of state, or at the very least, much larger more accomplished, farms looking to expand.

And this is happening all over the country, especially where genuine farmer direct CSA is not truly understood or promoted by media.

Co-opting food from several sources is much different than pulling a share of the harvest together from one's own property. And buying and re-selling produce is kind of counter productive to being a farmer, unless you're buying things for your members that you are unable to grow. But, this is very risky, too, and not how most core members would want their share membership monies spent - to support some out of state farm's budget. 

Unaware of the differences between CSA and Co-op, however, many consumers unwittingly had a part in what has resulted in only a handful of truly small, local family owned farms hanging on by a wing and a prayer here in our North Texas region.

And this is happening all over the country, especially where genuine farmer direct CSA is not truly understood or promoted by media.

Many newbie farmers start out with corporate career savings only to find looped together one or two poor seasons of drought, flooding, extreme freezes, etc, taking a huge bite out of any profit they may have enjoyed, and quickly draining their safety net.

Many are forced to send one partner or the other back to an off-farm job – when there is a partner to do so. Many times both work multiple jobs and try to keep the farm going in the wee hours, while siphoning money into the farm from the “real-world” job. And they slink up to a drive-through and eat way below their normal standards, just because there just is no time to work so many hours and prepare the beautiful food they’re growing and raising – and selling to others to eat!

It’s sad to me to see the fast food wrappers in the trash of a fellow farmer’s front seat, when I know full well they are growing gourmet quality food, but have to do chores instead of preparing their own meals.

CSA was designed to keep this craziness from happening! Yet, more and more people are steering away from this livelihood saving model, and snatching up the home delivery services of food co-ops often masking themselves as “just like a CSA”, when nothing could be further from the truth, or being offered more payment options, or food selection.

It was similar when large chemical companies started with the introduction of “eco-friendly” labels being sold right next to their own brand of highly toxic, un-environmentally friendly products.

Sure, it’s a free market, and I support that. But calling your company “earth friendly” on one label while selling something that kills the planet on the next – seemed a bit hypocritical to many, and thus was tagged as “greenwashing”.  Not a tag a company wants, yet still today, so many get away with hiding behind because consumers are ill-informed or outright misled through deceptive marketing. I've seen this right here in our local food scene as well.

Your farmer direct purchase means that all of your food dollars are going to the farmer to help pay the budget to keep that farm in your community sustainable during hard times.

Now, we’re also seeing large conventional companies buying up small batch, organic and sustainable independent producers; presumably so they can keep as much of the % of your food dollar as possible. Organics is growing, but geez, we don't make up but a very small percentage. Some want it all!

This morphing of smaller, organic companies, also gives them a lot of scary clout at the USDA’s and FDA’s tables when discussions come around for what should and what should not be allowed in the process of growing organically and food safety standards.

When lobbyists make various promises, or former big ag employees have persuasive positions within our government, small, local farmers don’t have much of a chance to have their voices heard. Nor does the consumer end up with a voice, either, as they are kept in the dark because of lack of informative labeling, or again, misleading marketing.

So you see, if you really want to know where your food comes from, how it was produced, who grew it and look your farmer eye, like you can your mechanic, your doctor and lawyer; CSA is the best way!

Your farmer direct purchase means that all of your food dollars are going to the farmer to help pay the budget to keep that farm in your community sustainable during hard times. Your money is not going to some middleman, wholesaler, and transportation company, etc.

Trust me, all of the small farmers I've known, have lowered their overhead much lower than most people would choose to live, just to survive another season.

Your food dollars spent "farmer direct" help keep people from losing their homes, working without proper equipment; and potentially, giving up their very livelihoods.

They work hard for you – and appreciate you.

We all love what we do, but can't do it for pennies on the dollar, and keep doing it very long, any more than any one else who works for a living could.

Shake the hand that feeds you.

CSA – Farmer Direct – All the Way!

This entry originally posted on Eden's' Life on the Farm Blog - Click Here for original blog and pics, as well as prior blog posts

Eden's Garden CSA Farm
Last post I mentioned that I’d share some gardening tips with you. Since I started gardening back in the 80’s, a lot of new things have come to market, but for organic gardening, it’s pretty much the same story – feed the soil. But what if you are starting from scratch – in other words, starting from a lawn - how do you get started?
I wish I’d learned about permaculture a long time ago because my farm, and previous yards, would look a lot different. But, we learn and implement what we do as information becomes available to us and from that, we often grow. In this case, literally!
So I’m going to share with you a bit of a modified version of how I used to suggest starting a garden from an existing lawn area. And this is true even if you just have an overgrown patch of weeds, too. But many reading this are converting lawns to gardens – and YAY for that!
I generally start out my gardening classes with the disclaimer that my way is by far not the only way and that I don’t hold all of the answers. 
Much of what I have learned and apply today, was learned by listening to others who have much more wisdom and experience than me. I always try to remember my sources to give credit, too. That way you can look up more information or clarify something I’ve said. 
In this case, the method I’m going to share with you is part of a permaculture technique called “Sheet Mulching”. This technique has been called a variety of things and is taught by many others in various forms, including brilliant homesteader and wonderful gardener and author Ruth Stout who wrote How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back.
Toby Hemenway is the author of an awesome book called Gaia’s Garden. If you’ve not ever read it, I’d really suggest picking up a copy. It’s a great resource guide that I was told about while taking a permaculture class given by Larry Korn, who studied under another great teacher, farmer and author of yet another great book, called One Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka. So what I’m going to share with you, is nothing new, but it’s certainly revolutionized many people’s gardening attempts, and it seems permaculture is making a broader appearance lately. 
Step 1, in my opinion, is to start small. Seriously. Once you get an idea of how much time the upkeep will take you for the size plot you start with, you can gauge whether or not you’d like to increase the size the following season. But let's not bite off a huge chunk and let it get away from us the first season. It's not really difficult to grow some of your own food, but it will take some time.
Plot location is as important as plot size in that you need to have at least 4-6 hours of (preferably) morning sun. Afternoon sun really doesn’t benefit growth as much do the sun’s rays during the early part of the day. There are some plants that can grow without much sun, and if you’re patient, you can still have a garden with only 4 hours of morning sun. But let’s hope you can find a corner or plot somewhere with a bit more than that. 
So, now let's say we’ve selected a nice, manageable slice of land that gets at least 4 hours of sun.
Here’s the abridged directions of what Toby calls the “Ultimate, Bomb-Proof Sheet Mulch”;
I would change one thing around, just to make it a bit easier, and that is to mow grass/weeds low before you start, rather than after his step 1, as he outlines in his book. Leave the clippings on the ground.
  • Water area to be prepared the day before – or better yet, plan to do this the day after a good, soaking rain.
  • Add any soil amendments needed for your soil type. Such items would include, lava sand, rock phosphate, perhaps some kelp meal. We’ve discussed soil amendments a few times before (or you can check the web site for more info.)
  • Loosen heavy clay, using a garden fork. You are not digging or turning the soil. Just push the garden fork in and rock it back and forth a bit, all around the site. This adds air to the soil and allows amendments to soak in faster as well as give soil critters some wiggle room. 
  • Add a thin layer of a source of nitrogen. You can use a general organic fertilizer like Texas Tea or Lady Bug, cottonseed meal, feather meal or even some decomposed farm animal manure. Horse and chicken manure is in abundance here, so that’s generally what I use.
  • Layer with several sheets of newspaper, or, much easier to use, large pieces of cardboard. Be sure to overlap the edges by about 6 inches, to block out light. That is KEY! Newspaper needs to be about ¼ - ½ of an inch thick. Weeds can push through otherwise. Wet each layer thoroughly as you lay it out. Hopefully, you saved some rainwater from the last rain event.
  • Sprinkle another thin layer of the nitrogen source over the “sheet” layer.
  • On top of this, add 8-12 inches of a bulk mulch material, like finely ground tree trimmings, leaves, (abundantly available this time of the year) or even old straw bales. Be careful NOT to use old bales of Bermuda grass hay. It can have seeds in it and we don’t want to go “there”!
  •  Wet this layer down well. It will encourage rotting of any weed seeds that may be present and help material to break down faster. The consistency of a wrung out sponge is what you’re looking for.
  • Now, add a layer, about 2 inches thick, of compost. Homemade is the best, but if you’re just starting out, you may
    need to buy some. Give me a call and I can order it bulk for you and have it delivered to your house. I have a favorite source I’ve used on and off for many years back when I was doing landscapes and had a more active garden center. They test their compost regularly and it’s safe for use in a vegetable garden.
    • (Before you partake in any “free” compost, ask questions.
      • What is their source of raw materials?
      • Do they test it for herbicides? (You don’t want to apply some kind of herbicide ridden compost to your new garden. Not only would it defeat the organic component, but if it’s got a broad leaf weed killer present, you’ll also damage your desired plants’ growth.)
  • If the compost isn’t moist, wet it down.
  • Top off with a nice clean, weed free layer of shredded mulch. I like to get free mulch from local tree trimmers. You can also use a thick layer of leaves, however when they dry, they tend to blow around. Mulch’s job is not only to provide a nice, finished look, but to help reduce erosion. 
Note; You may choose to edge your garden plot with metal edging, some decorative bricks, non-treated lumber, or, just give it about a 12" mulched border between any remaining grass and your first "row". That way, you can keep the weeds and grasses from sneaking over into your garden across the mulch more easily.
That’s it! You now have a garden in the making. Go back inside, make some hot tea, look at some seed catalogs and dream!
The winter rains will help break down the layers of newspaper or cardboard and all of that yummy organic matter will be creating a wonderful, living layer of topsoil, complete with earthworms and other beneficials, and a growing bed for your new spring garden, while you wait out ol’ man winter.
You actually can plant sooner, if you want to, by slicing open the newspaper/cardboard and setting weather appropriate seeds or transplants over the openings.
Onions are not fans of weeds and this type of weed free garden bed may be a super easy vegetable to start with. “Onion Sets” are available here at Eden’s as well as in most other garden and feed stores. Look for “short day” varieties.
NOTE: I suggest waiting until about mid February as onions are biennials and can be “tricked” into their 2nd growing season by our topsy turvy temperatures. But many people have planted early and get a decent to very nice crop planting at various times. There’s no hard and fast rule with onions and when you’re not planting hundreds of row feed, you can afford to take a few risks. But just a word of caution; if planted too early, some may begin to flower before they finish making a full sized bulb under ground.
If you’re a rookie, you may want to start with transplants this spring for things like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, which can be a bit tricky starting from seed.
But for squash, melons and other larger seeded veggies; go for it! Direct sow them, according to directions on the seed packets or our spring planting guide (available at the shop), and get ready to watch them come up.

The roots of seeds or transplants will find their way into the nice, rich and weed free plot you’ve created without breaking your back, a shovel, renting a sod cutter or hiring a crew to dig up the grass.
Git Yer Hands in the Dirt & Eat Your Food - Naturally!
Eden's Garden CSA Farm
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Contact: Marie Tedei              214-348-3336

For Immediate Release

Are you kidding me? Farmer Marie, aka Eden’s Gardener, is wearing yet another hat!  This time, one woman farm owner/operator, instead of “agtivist”, is wearing the title "fund raiser" – to rally a crowd to help raise funds for farm improvements all to help the farm provide more food for the USDA food desert Southeast Dallas County area. The goals include a new front-end loader attatchment (to shovel more poop/compost); materials for a solar powered walk-in cooler and to purchase an ice machine. (Campaign found on Indiegogo #feedthesoilfeedthecommunity)

The on-line crowd-funding event runs through Friday, Nov. 7th and ends with a combo fundraiser count down/pre-Veterans’ Day mini film festival event at the Balch Springs farm. DFW area premier of Terra Firma and Ground Operations to be shown on the big barn movie screen with concessions from proceeds going to area grass roots veterans group.

 A True Farm to Farm Table Experience – Tedei says after the first one sold out the first week, chef Graham Dodds of Hibiscus has offered up a 2nd Private Dinner for 6 on the farm as one of the big $ perks for the farm’s fundraiser. Other foodie perks include "sous chef for the day" with Mark Wooten or Dodds and and CSA Share for the farm.

 PLUS in the same spirit as the current KERA on air fund raising campaign, there’s a current challenge going on with a $ 4 $ matching contribution up to 5k from a private but loyal supporter of the farm.  The farm is trying to raise 10k by Nov. 7th.

Tedei hosts an all farmers/all “organic” farmer’s market called Market Day each 1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturdays on her farm. The market is open to the public and accepts the Lone Star Card.

 When: Now – Nov. 7th

Where: on-line at

Nov. 7th – Eden’s Organic Garden Center & Eden’s Garden CSA Farm

4710 Pioneer Road, Balch Springs, 75180

Eden's Garden CSA Farm

A little over a week ago, I dove head first into unchartered territory and began this farm’s first venture in crowdfunding by way of Indiegogo, in order to raise a fairly large sum to pay for needed upgrades. It has been, and continues to be, quite exciting – just this week, a long time, very generous farm supporter issued an amazing “challenge” to others watching the campaign. She’s matching dollar for dollar any contribution that comes in, up to $5,000! Yet, running a month-long, on-line fund raiser has also been, and continues to be, a lot of work, with all of the emails, press releases, has#-tagging, and social media blitzing required to get out the word.

But without conventional means of income, it’s pretty tough to walk up to a banker, even my friendly home-town type, and take out a loan for anything - much less an after market front-end loader for a used tractor, a walk-in cooler and an ice machine. That’s pretty much how crowdfunding got started. People needed help pushing their potentially unconventional thoughts & ideas forward, so they turned to other like-minded folks en masse - grande.

And like many small business owners, farmers, it seems, are sometimes in need of this or that. And once we have “it”, we often wonder how in the world we ran a farm before we did. As much as I don’t want to use fossil fuel, (and I use it as infrequently as I can), at this stage in the farm’s development, on a 1-woman farm, it’s a necessary evil. With biodiesel only 15 miles away, at least I’m sort of green when I run the tractor. But I long for the day when ol’ JD only gets fired up to turn compost piles.

And turning compost piles, is the main reason to acquire a front-end loader for the tractor – at least for me. Sure, it’s going to make short of other tasks as well, such as carrying things around here that outweigh me. I’d like to still be able to walk and stand upright when I am 80.

But the ability to make one’s own living, breathing, compost source, could very well be one of the most significant advances for any small farm or homestead. It’s what could afford one to become nearly, totally, self sustaining. And that my friends, is one of the beauties of what organic farming is to me. Not having to trek to the store, or in my case the warehouse, each and every season to stock up on bags of commercially processed organic fertilizer and bottles of liquid this and that, is an important goal to have for truly sustainable agriculture to be realized.

I understand we live in a commercial society where everyone has to make a living, buying and selling things. And there’s always going to be some “stuff” we all buy so becoming “self sufficient” isn’t going to hurt the economy. Heavens, a garden center is one of the most glorious places to visit on Earth! I’ll always find my way to them and opening one was my first venture into owning a small business.

However, when did it become necessary for us to stock up on hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of soil amendmentsto put on our gardens each year in order to grow food? Well, I’ll tell you what I believe....

When we stripped them of topsoil in order to get rid of “weeds” – or worse, we doused them with poisons to do the job. 

When we stopped replenishing our soils with what was already present on the farm – or nearby. 

When we found a "miracle" in a bag, jar or bottle. 

When we got lazy, or too “busy”.

If you’ve ever watched Nature, you know she’s not lazy. Now she doesn’t work really hard either, and yet while she’s always “busy”, she’s busy working smartly. She stacks dead things on top of each other, adds water, leaves it lying there for animals to kick around and poop on, mix up and smoosch all down into the soil, and whalah – compost! 

Now granted, this method takes many years because it’s not heated up just laying there on the forest floor. But pick up a scoop of fresh soil off of the floor in the woods next time you’re hiking – and lift it up to your nose. I think it's one of the most wonderful scents you’ll ever experience. You can’t create that commercially and stick it in a bag.There are laws against it. No, really.

But, you can create it on your farm, or in your backyard, and spread it out over your crops or gardens. And if you can do that, consistently, I submit to you at some point, you’ll make your last necessary trip down the aisle of packaged "miracles" at the local garden store.

The insects will be more in check. Moisture will be less evasive because there’s ample organic matter in the soil to retain it, therefore reducing the need for this precious resource - as we enter our 5th year of drought. Weeds will become less invasive because the soil’s biology will begin to balance out and support higher forms of life, instead of desperately just trying to cover itself with whatever will grow there to keep from eroding away. Namely grass burs, Bermuda grass and fire ants.

Compost. It’s about balance. It’s about permaculture. It’s about working smarter, not harder. And that means working with Nature, not against her. Save that money you'd spend on "miracles", for cool new plants, more seeds, ceramic gnomes and fun baskets to share your bounty with friends. Compost Happens. And it makes your garden grow. Really well.

Thank you to all who have pitched in to help make this farm’s garden grow throughout our 5 years, and in this current on-line crowd funding drive. It better enables me to offer more real, food grown with integrity, to southeast Dallas County’s community where I live. And if you'd like to be part of the crowd - check out our campaign here.

I hope you'll all join us on Nov. 7th here at the farm for a little get together.

It's the count down to the end of this campaign, as well as an early Veterans Day tribute with a mini film festival.

Terra Firma, and time and weather permitting, Ground Operations will both be DFW area premiered on our big, outdoor, barn screen.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!




Eden's Garden CSA Farm
Watch your inbox for details on pre-ordering for March's market pick up day, March 12th.

Market Days start back up April 2nd!