Greg Reynolds at Riverbend Farm is well, not just a farmer.  He is so much more.  For us in the industry we are lucky to get his words sent to us in an email on a regular basis that gives us a glimpse into what his life is like.

Riverbend Farm Newsletter August 10, 2010

I don’t suppose that I have to tell you that it has been hot and humid for the past two weeks. Working outside when the heat index is over 100F is hot. We have been getting quite a bit of rain. Saturday we had 0.6″ and today we got another 1.5″. The moisture is nice to have.

If the humidity was backed off a notch or two, that would make my life a little easier. High humidity creates disease problems. We have been seeing some mildew problems in the field. Once we recognized what was happening we avoid those areas. The beans are getting white mold on them, which kill the beans.

The downside of all the rain is that weed control is out of control. When it is too wet to drive in the field, we can not cultivate. When it is wet and hot, weeds grow like crazy. They will also reroot if they don’t dry out. Too bad our ancestors did not evolve eating weeds. Mowing is about the only option left. Where the crew has been hand hoeing and weeding, we are still in good shape.

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are ready. Zukes and cukes are running wild. The greens and radishes are still booming.

You may recall that I took a bike trip out west a couple weeks ago. It was a great trip. The bike ran fine except for a few minor issues. The roads were spectacular. The scenery was great. I met a bunch of interesting (in a good way) people.

On the way back I ran solo and would stop in small town cafes for breakfast. In western Washington I sat with dryland wheat farmers. They only grow wheat. One year they get a crop and the next they fallow their land to conserve moisture. They get about 10″ of precipitation a year, mostly in the winter as snow. They try to collect two winter’s worth of moisture to grow one crop. Yikes.

The next day in Montana I sat with a guy from Ontario with a Kawasaki ZX1400 (a 1.4 liter motorcycle) and next to two guys from New Hampshire who were biking across the country. The guys on the bicycles thought that panniers were the way to go versus at trailer. They were surprised at how much food they needed. Once the Canadian left, they finished his breakfast. The cafe was run by one woman who cooked and waited on tables, she was the owner.

The last day out I stopped in North Dakota and sat with some farmers and a minister in a town of 300. The town had gotten together to buy the local grocery store to keep it from closing. Recently they added a cafe in the back. It is easy to tell where there is a cafe in a small town, just look for a collection of pickups. By the time I finished breakfast, people on the street knew that I was from Delano and had been to British Columbia on my bike. Small towns…

It has been a whirlwind since I got back. Back on Wednesday. Harvest on Thursday, Deliver on Friday, Crop Mob on Saturday… It has been nuts. The crop mob was great. They weeded beets and chard, peppers and eggplant and got us a little closer to being caught up. Now it would be nice to have a few dry days to get some field work and planting done.

This Saturday is the 5th annual Minnesota Garlic Festival. The festival is at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. The event is a fund raiser for our Sustainable Farming Chapter. The money gets used to bring speakers like Joel Salatin to Minnesota, to reach out to young people who are interested in farming, and to publicize sustainable farming as a viable alternative in the industrial food system. See for more details.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I have to be in Rochester at 8 am for a panel discussion on Farm to School. This is a bigger deal than I thought. There are something like 700 people at this conference. Wish me luck.