Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Generation Farm

 by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator

I first met James Steever during the Co-op’s screening of the film Greenhorns, part of the Green Living Series at Red River Theaters.  The film documents the trials and struggles of young farmers in America.  James and his three partners, Joanna Brown, Peter Brown, and Chris O’Leary were just beginning their own entrepreneurial venture on 72 acres of land in Concord.  Together they bring a wide diversity of farming experience and education to the table. 
Joanna and James
Within a few months of our meeting, Generation Farm’s fantastic fresh salad greens were available in the Produce department.  As they started their greens production last year, Generation Farm was simultaneously clearing twelve acres for vegetable, fruit and flower production; erecting and planting a 30x60 ft. greenhouse; building healthy soil; developing their organic farm plan of companion cropping, crop rotation, and green manures; pursuing organic certification; and acquiring the permits, variances and architectural plans for erecting a 40 x 80 ft. barn.
Greg and Paula with pepper starters
Now that all of those carefully laid plans are coming to fruition, they’ll be planting 3 acres of organically managed fruit trees using Michael Philips holistic organic orchard techniques.  Their goal is to become one of the first commercial organic orchards in the state. When I asked James about his motivation for farming he said, “…farming is inspiring us because it fosters a connection with nature, our land, and its diverse ecosystems.  Farming as a career choice is as political and ethical a decision as much as it is an economic one.”

Joanna and James in the greenhouse.