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Combine Tradition and Technology

March 22, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat was one of the first green jobs? Anyone? It’s a combination of recycling and sustainability, with a touch of renewable energy and community service through in. It’s something I’ve been around all of my life. It’s changed, adapted, grown and shrank as changeable as the tide and yet in many ways the same. It’s agriculture, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Agriculture has images that are negative and largely undeserved. It shapes public opinion in an equally negative – and often incorrect! – way. For me, agriculture lessons became life lessons. Like many in rural America, I participated in 4-H and FFA programs. Here I learned to prepare and choose quality livestock, grow vegetables and flowers, prepare meals and was introduced to the ultimate in recycling – composting!

In addition to learning day by day I attended Black Hawk East Community College near Kewanee, Illinois. I studied to work in the horse industry, but classes required were in general agriculture too.

Today I work promoting agriculture and telling our story. Working with the space available, there was a small scale interrelated opportunity at SlowMoneyFarm. Purebred heritage poultry and rabbits are part of this. Rabbits provide food and fur but at this stage they are providing an expanding breeding herd. The chickens provide eggs on an outdoor basis.

Of course both also produce manure, which is used in raised bed gardens. A compost bin handles the chicken manure, which is “hot” manure that can burn plants. Rabbit manure is composted, mixed into the soil in the beds or spread around the plants in small amounts for an extra boost.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThose raised beds provide herbs, tomatoes, peppers and other food. Due to rising demand in consumers wanting to grow their own food, there are options now to raise pullets (female chickens) for those who want a few for their own egg production, chickens for meat, other poultry and custom raised beds. These are delivered and planted for people who are interested in raising their own food but have limited time. It is a cool thing to be able to literally provide food for people, to insure food choices and to do so in a circle of life.

For many of the day to day things recycling takes a new form – using discarded pallets for the compost bin and discarded building materials for the home raised beds. This is time consuming to set up, but works very efficiently and naturally once done!

As the operation expands, a system of gutters and pipes will capture rain water to water the animals and birds. Solar will be another use, with passive solar used to keep hens comfortable.

As the farm expands to additional land, a geo-thermally heated/cooled rabbit barn is planned that will keep rabbits at a comfortable temperature year round. This is done using a basic wind powered simple set up that has been in operation for over a century! It will also include earth sheltered nesting boxes that double as raised beds over it. It’s an exciting time to be a part of combining tradition and technology. Solar power is also planned for fencing.

Through the use of raised beds, imperfect soil and small scale production can be maintained on an intensive planting basis. Many are surprised what 50 or 100 square feet of garden, managed well, can provide for their family freezer! This helps individuals and communities with local food on a new scale – right outside their door!

By teaching others as well as modeling basics, it is a great way to share “Earth Day” every day. The income can vary, but the rewards are priceless.

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