6 de feb. de 2024 · 11m 24s

Ep.1-The Lay of the Land In which Magda rambles about the farming tasks of spring and introduces the podcast and its aims. --- TRANSCRIPTION: Hello, welcome to Scrap Kitchen. This...

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Ep.1-The Lay of the Land
In which Magda rambles about the farming tasks of spring and introduces the podcast and its aims.

Hello, welcome to Scrap Kitchen.
This is my attempt at a podcast, or not really a podcast but voice notes
.I have been sending voice notes to one of my friends as we live in separate countries. I thought it would be a good way of charting how we go from, we; my partner and I, go from having no land, to maybe having land, to maybe starting a farm.
And maybe I should take those maybes out and make it a little bit more clear.
Hi, I’m Magda. I wrote the Scrap Kitchen newsletter for about a year when I first started farming. Towards the end of the season, I got kind of exhausted. Because farming is really hard (but so worth it). It’s now two and a bit years later and I’m going to go for something that’s going to be a little easier. Hopefully a little easier to maintain and that is this voice note/podcast thing.
So join me as I try to start a farm with my beloved.

This episode is called The Lay of the Land and I have a lot of notes here about what I want to talk over. Along with somewhat of a time limit which I hope I will stick to.
Starting from the beginning. This is the start of February, I’m here in Michigan on unceded Anishinaabeg Land.
I, with my partner, manage a farm. It is a certified organic farm, it does U-Pick, it has a CSA, we sell at our farmstand and might start selling at markets. We grow a lot of vegetables.

This will be my fourth year of farming. Since I quit my job mid-pandemic and moved to a different continent and learned how to save seeds (and farm). I got pretty disenfranchised with working in a start-up (ew). Mid-PannyD everyone freaked out and resigned, I was no different. I realised what I wanted to do was work the land, feed people and grow climate-resistant crops. I wanted to do it in a way that aligned with actually caring for the land. I had to find somewhere that did that (places that do that in the UK do, that's not why I left). I am an American citizen so I thought you know, I've never lived there. May as well try.

Which leads to us trying to find land now.

I met my partner because he also quit his job mid-pandemic to go become a vegetable farmer in Colorado. After three years, and it will be four, of farming in the US, we want to go to the UK and start our own farm. So we're looking for land.
For those of you who don't know, or have no idea what the UK farming scene is like, it's really hard to get land.
Land is owned in massive parcels by people (or companies, or families) who've owned it for thousands of years. Or hundreds of years. Just too long. It’s quite hard to just get 5 acres.
To get around this my partner and I created this sheet with our experience, what we’re looking for (land-wise), and the vision for what we're going to do. We've been sending out to anyone and everyone we can think of. Hoping they will send it through their network.
So far a couple of people have gotten back to me. Not with land but with other connections, so we have to chase those up. As of now, we have no land and we have no visa (we're also going to try to get a visa to get my partner to the UK so that we can do, you know, the farming).
So you are joining us, well me (he's a part of this but this podcast is just going to be me chit-chatting), at the beginning.

The hope for this podcast is that, in a similar vein to Ismatu Gwendolyn, you'll get to see me learn in like real time; How to do all of the background stuff for farming.
For people who are interested in starting farming, they'll realise oh fuck this is all the work that goes in! And for people who are already farming they'll get to say, yeah I remember when I was at that stage.
Learning in real-time, showing you what it's like to be a first-generation farmer, trying to share knowledge on where people learn how to do this stuff, how we do stuff, why we do stuff.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years, since my life became seasonal, assessing what really matters to me. It comes down to three things. My pillars.
Nourishment- is feeding people. Trying to give people healthy food, that's cheap.
Connection- is trying to build and be a part of vibrant mycelial communities/ networks. It's mutual aid. Getting involved and invested with where you live at any point in time, even if you're only there for a couple of months.
Knowledge- at all points I want to break down gatekeeping. My background is a degree in biochemistry, which solidified to me that access to information comes through money (and academia is awful). People should have access to all information and resources. Scarcity around knowledge is really short-sighted. I don’t want to perpetuate the restriction of knowledge sharing, especially when it might help someone.
That's the basic overview…

Right now it is a sunny day in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The snow has melted mostly. It was very snowy a week ago.
We've been out to the farm and interviewed a couple of people who'll be working with us and started clearing up the high tunnel. We need to start planting some seeds. We'll be planting lots of alliums this year; that means onions, garlic, and leeks. We're going to start loads of trays of onions and leeks pretty early so that we can put them in the ground as soon as possible. As soon as it stops threatening to freeze all the time.
A lot of the farm work right now is doing computer work. We have eight massive spreadsheets; crop, harvest, and sales plans abound. Anyone who thinks farming isn’t maths and science is wrong. It is intense! But also pretty fun (because I am a Capricorn). Aside from spreadsheets, we're going over systems. Creating documents to make it easier for volunteers (we have a lot) that come to the farm. We want them to be able to at a sheet and know how to do something. Especially for things they might forget, they can come back and like look at this sheet that tells them how much a box of carrots should weigh.
We're also ordering seeds. The most exciting time of the year! It’s like Christmas for farmers. When all your boxes full of seeds turn up you get to think about all the things that they're going to turn into. All the possibilities also saved a lot of seeds last year. I saved a lot of tomatoes and the year before lots of beans, butterfly blue peas, and luffa (a whole lot of luffa). I'll probably talk more about seed saving later and why it's so important.
Now is the time to sit in the gestational darkness of spring. To think about what the year might become. To put things in place so that we can make it into a good year.

The other big news on our farm is that we've released our CSA. So people have started buying our CSA shares for the coming year. For those who don't know, CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. It's a box or a bag of vegetables every week for however long it runs.
Buying a CSA helps a farmer because it gives them funds at the start of the season. When they haven't started selling food directly to consumers. It means that they can buy seeds or pay their workers for the first couple of months (don’t get me started on farmers and debt, we do not have time). If you have a CSA in your local area, I would suggest you get on it.
There are, at least on our farm, options for people to access our CSA/produce if they are on food stamps, if they're on SNAP benefits or any other food assistance program. And various farms do that. So there shouldn't be anything like stopping someone (obviously societally there are) from getting access to fresh nutritious produce. At least on solid farms (that are trying their best), there is usually no financial barrier to people getting access to the vegetables that they need.
Do not be afraid to ask your local farmer if they do that.
And if they don't, fuck ‘em.
Side note: it’s a purposefully difficult process to set yourself up to accept food assistance payment. Almost as if they want to discourage small businesses from partaking by bogging them down in bureaucracy.

Okay, well that got way more dramatic than I was expecting in my first voice noite/podcast.

But since these are just voice notes, just going to chart how I feel, it doesn't matter if you don't like my style. That's okay.

And if you do like my style, then you can listen and learn in real-time along with me.

So there it is. The Lay of the Land.


Find me on Instagram, The Dots and my Website.
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Autor Magda N-W
Página web xandua.substack.com

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