The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1327: Joshua Farm – Urban Agriculture with Kirsten Reinford

     

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    My guest for this episode is Kirsten Reinford, the founder of Joshua Farm, an organic urban farm in the city of Harrisburg.

    This is the second of the series on beginning farming. If you’d like to hear the first episode on this topic check out my interview with Erin Harvey.

    1-ChickensInTheCityI wanted to speak with Kirsten on this subject because of her candor in some of our conversations about what it’s like to run a farm, yet I didn’t know her story or that of Joshua Farm.

    We’ve shared lunch at a farm tour and spoke about broader issues involving urban farming in Harrisburg, our state capital. We’ve attended the same meetings involving local initiatives where Kirsten asked pointed questions and provided personal insights. In many ways she is a mainstay of the regional sustainable farming community, and I’m thankful she’s here. Her passion for farming and devotion to this work is ever-present. I found this out when, during the interview, her doorbell rang. I paused the conversation as she answered the door, and there was a customer to pick up their CSA share. At nearly 9 o’clock at night.

    2-InsideTheHighTunnelThat Kirsten contemplates her role as a farmer and the role of Joshua Farm is also apparent. I say that because I think is the least I’ve spoken during an interview. Each time I was ready to interject and ask a question, her narrative continued in the direction I planned to take us, and the unspoken question was answered.

    Lastly among my many reasons for interviewing Kirsten is that I visited Joshua Farm.  Being local, this site provided a place I could go to in order to learn and in turn provide a more useful interview.

    After the interview wrapped there were some things Kirsten wanted to add that didn’t make it into the interview proper.

    One of those is “SPIN Farming”, which is a program designed to get a small scale farm up and running, profitably, in a short amount of time. Though Kirsten doesn’t agree with everything in this method, there are some pieces that you may find useful. There is some information on the website, though most of the content appears to be made available through purchased PDF downloads or books, at various price points, with the total package running several hundred dollars. I can’t speak to the content or value of this product, and am not endorsing it in any way, but you can find out more by going to spinfarming.com and taking a look around. There is a mix of freely available content to get you started, and see if you might be interested.

    4-GreensHer other recommendation I noted was Growing for Market magazine, which offers numerous resources for farmer’s who grow to sell. I’m not familiar with it beyond Kirsten’s mention, but when I went to the main page of the website, there was Richard Wiswall with a recommendation for the magazine.

    I mention Richard Wiswall because Kirsten recommended his book The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook. For the number of times I’ve heard his name and this book mentioned, it seems like the perfect place to start your research into the business of starting your own farm.

    Looking into Agsquared farm planning software the current feature set includes:

    • Interactive Farm Map.
    • Crop Planner.
    • Planting Calculators.
    • Daily Calendar.
    • Smart Scheduling.
    • Farm Journal.
    • Spreadsheet Importer.

    3-CompostInTheCityThis is all supported with extensive training materials and email support, but does not include harvest tracking. I think that’s probably where the Spreadsheet Importer comes in. You can check out a free 30 day trial at Agsquared.com. Should you choose to purchase, the price is $60 a year. As a technology person I like that this is accessible across many mediums including computer, tablet, and smart phone.

    Resources:
    Joshua Farm
    The Joshua Group

    Agsquared
    Growing for Market
    Richard Wiswall

    Farms:
    Goldfinch Farm CSA
    Greensgrow Farms
    Mildred’s Daughter

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