I unzipped my tent in the morning to a storybook view overlooking Oz Farm. The community house looks like a toy from atop the hill, tucked below a bunch of redwoods. I rolled out of my tent with extreme grace, as a larger man in a small tent is known to do. “Do you want french press? Aero press? drip? nitro cold brew? Mocha or coconut iced coffee??” Our friends at Stumptown had generously provided us with every coffee engine known to man. I decided it was only fair that I try each method. With a fresh cup of coffee, and a good caffeine buzz, I took a walk around the farm. The flowers, fruit trees, corn, redwoods, and colorful tents around the farm provided quite the brilliant aesthetic. The fantastic crew at Rice Paper Scissors threw down a breakfast for the ages. After breakfast, the day’s 3 workshops began:
7 Tips For Sustainable Farming:
1) Start with the soil. Healthy plants come from healthy soil, so get your soil tested (here is the test that I use). Then make sure to put in plenty of good quality compost (ideally you should make your own!) This will help your plants access nutrients, store water in the ground, buffer against too acidic soils, and on and on!
2) Dig Deep. I taught people the technique of double-digging, to loosen and aerate the soil 24″ deep. It is a much better technique than plowing, roto-tilling, or just using a raised bed. It can help your plants deliver 4-6 times the US average yield!
3) Take care of your tools. Your body is the most important tool you have, so stretch, take it slowly, and try not to just muscle things around. Also, better to purchase good, english-made garden tools and keep them for decades than to go through cheap tools from the hardware store every couple of years.
4) Don’t direct sow, start your seeds in flats. Most plants will do better started in a seeding flat and then transplanted into your garden. This saves water, let’s you get a jump on the growing season, reduces pest interference, and insures against low germination rate.
5) Don’t plant in rows. Instead, plant in a triangular pattern to maximize space, and create a micro-climate in your garden bed.
6) When it’s time to harvest, leave 5 leaves on the plant. If you’re harvesting leafy greens, you want to leave at least 5 full leaves on the plant to keep up efficient photosynthesis.
7) Ask around. If you have questions about your garden, start asking friends and strangers before google. Farming is meant to be a community activity and becomes much more fun when it is treated as such. Also, it is amazing to see what hidden gems of knowledge surround us!
Who knew bees will travel in a 2 mile radius away from their hive to find pollen? I didn’t. Di from Oz Farm gave us a run down on beekeeping as we sat amongst the flowers. Bees are imperative to a thriving ecosystem, and I had never felt more comfortable with them buzzing around me. A little boy from the camp kept picking honey off the comb as Di proceeded to drop knowledge about the wonderful insects. Here are a few fun facts that we learned about bee keeping:
The folks at Oz farm shared their knowledge about growing apples with our crew and showed us how to press apples into juice!
After filling our brains with knowledge, we had some leisure time. A quick jump in the creek was all we needed to rejuvenate before dinner. It was time for a libation and some conversation. The time preceding dinner was spent at a table sharing stories from travel and trips yet to come. It felt like everything your average work happy hour wanted to accomplish. No cell phones, just laughs and intrigue. The group came to the consensus that we don’t take enough time to sit and enjoy people’s company, the farm had really brought everyone together.
Dinner did not disappoint. Rice Paper Scissors grilled corn and okra paired with marinated chuck burgers over the hot coals. Fixins galore. Is this Heaven? No it’s Oz Farm.
The night continued its magic as people congregated by the fire, because of course no campout is ever complete without comparing s’mores techniques with Annie’s graham crackers. The Range of Light Wilderness arrived from the back of their Toyota camper truck fresh from the beach. They began to sing and play us all into a dreamy state by the firelight. Our campfire chorus sang Hey Jude together and made cheers to how lucky we were. We can’t recreate moments like these, where the people, the music, and the mood are all in sync. Most of us were strangers before the weekend, yet it felt like years of friendship had passed in a few nights.
On Sunday morning we said our “goodbyes” and “see you soons” and bought some produce left over from the farmers market. Hugs were given, and we each headed off in our respective directions. As I drove down the coast with a smile, I thought about all the excuses we can come up with to not take a trip or venture outside. With my final conclusion being: “It is always worth it.”
Thanks so much again to our fantastic sponsor, Eddie Bauer, for making these campouts possible. Remember to follow @eddiebauer and #liveyouradventure for inspiration for your next outdoor adventure. In addition to their ongoing support through funding and resources, they were generous enough hook us all up with great tents and goodie bags filled with camping essentials. Cheers!
Union Wine Co, Fort Point Beer, and Stumptown Coffee, spoiled us again with delicious drinks to enjoy throughout the weekend. Thank you so much! We feel spoiled having your beer, wine, and coffee at all of our events.
Thanks to Klean Kanteen, every guest was given a stainless steel bottle and cup making us very happy campers, indeed.
Rice Paper Scissors blew everyone away with delicious food all weekend. Be sure to check out their weekly pop-up restaurant at Mojo Bicycle Cafe on Thursday nights in SF!
The Range of Light Wilderness played for us around the campfire on Saturday night. Be sure to check out their album and see them live if you get a chance!
Last but not least, thank you to Annie’s Organics for reminding us we’re never too old for our favorite childhood comfort foods and snacks—bunny snacks, graham crackers and mac and cheese galore!