Crystine of Uprising
Another wonderful Show & Tell Tour today — this time we're touring a beautiful organic farm in Bellingham, Washington. Let's go see what farmer mama Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Organics Farm and Uprising Seeds has to share with us.
Come on outside...
Summer is the busy season at Uprising Organics Farm and Uprising Seeds, but I was so delighted when Crystine agreed to chronicle a little bit of the season for us. The result: our very first Show & Tell Farm Tour. Crystine took photographs of their working farm from June to now and is sharing them with us here today. Being a farmer is a lot of work (a TON of work!), but I love how Crystine involves her young son and teaches him and also finds the everyday poetry in the hard work and in her days. After all, the seasons and the growing and the dying and the rebirth are poetic. And how nice to find poetry in your hard work every now and then. What inspiration! Let's go and enjoy the farm.
Crystine, tell us a little about your family and your family farm.
We are a family of three living in Bellingham, WA. My son Rowan is four. We love where we live. You can find our house by following the music or the smell of fresh horse manure, depending on the season!
Our farmland is approximately 40 minutes away from our home. We have been leasing land since our business began and were/are excited to show that this was possible, as not everyone might have access to the land ownership model. Long-term leases are the key here, folks.
The seed business end is run out of our home and is migrating to the backyard into a soon-to-be-completed second building.
Tarahumara Sunflower — they are at least dinner plate size and really this brilliant
How do you approach farming? What's the most important thing?
The most important thing is intention. A sense of balance and joy fit right in with this. Of course, the most important things, in all probability, may not happen every day!
You have a young child. How does this influence how you garden/farm?
Oh my. My answer to this has changed, as my whole family has changed over the years. With a child, there is the process of getting to know yourself also as a mother and embrace it. Sometimes easier said then done!
My child influences me to play more, look down low, and find amazement in the unexpected. He reminds me to breathe when the stress and hurry of the day set in. This reminder may take hours to sink in, but it always does.
Rowan "the rabbit" going in for a feeding
As for the day-to-day harvesting, planting, and sowing, Rowan has always been a part of it all in one way or another. From seeding flats and planting potatoes to the picking and eating, he is right there. I wanted to ensure that the farm was both a place of work and a magical place where anything can and does happen. A place where he has a place and can play in his special sunflower circles and bean tee-pees. And it seems to be working.
Late July, near the flower area and Rowan's special places
Just last week, he announced that he too needed a seed office. His new office now lives in our main room complete with labeled jars of all the seeds he has collected. At market, he decided that he would like his own booth, which he creates from boxes piled high with vegetables and flowers to "sell." The money exchange is the last thing that appears to be of interest to him. He simply feels the joy in the giving...at least this is what his mama believes.
The seed office
These calendula seeds are from Rowan's seed office
Tell us about one DIY project you have taken on recently on your farm and love.
I must say that there are not a lot of DIY projects. We tend to work together even on days we are working separately. I have many ideas for DIY projects, but when the season is upon us, those ideas live mostly in my head....
So, a DIY from my head, to write down select lines and thoughts that move me and hang them up around the fields and greenhouses so that we all are reminded many times a day of endless possibilities and take a moment to stop, read, and breathe. The first yellow finch and flocks of swooping swallows, herd of resident elk, owls, coyotes, eagles, and tiny ladybug larvae also serve quite well as reminders.
Beautiful cornfield poppies for seed
Tell us one gardening tip you employ that most amateur gardeners may not know.
One of my favorite gardening tips is to water everything with a compost or manure "tea" before planting. This can consist of many things, but in general includes a few handfuls of kelp meal and a big scoop of compost or manure wrapped in cheesecloth — all in a five gallon bucket of water. We make sure to stir often and use within two days. I feel that this extra care really helps with the transition of plants from a flat to the great big Earth.
Do you have a favorite crops, flowers, etc. on your farm? Tell us about them.
This year my favorites are Quinoa and Ziar breadseed Poppy. Oh yes, and Salpiglosis, Diablo Cosmos, Bee's Friend, Koralik tomatoes, Blacktail Mountain Watermelons, some sort of incredible sunflower cross that self sowed, and the simple tee-pees the swallows have made for their perching places...
Salpiglosis flower for seed: very bright, like stained glass, in purples to bright fuchsia
Quinoa for seed: brilliant colors and about five-foot tall in mid-July.
You are an organic farmer, a seed grower, and a mom. What chore do you tend to back burner most so you can find time for fun?
Everything goes on the back burner in the summer! Piles of laundry are constant and chaos can be rampant. You know, I have learned to live with and almost appreciate all of this. It looks to me like we are alive...simply living and not always concentrating on and being driven by the myriad of things that need to be repaired, washed, weeded, etc...
What makes sense to me is to go for a long hike, to kayak in the ocean, rivers, and lakes, and explore the mountains while they are not under snow. Being a mom and farmer, hell, being alive, I have learned that everything is fleeting; one moment and then the next before I can take a breath! Everything changes exactly when perfection appears to have been reached and also the same way, when I am about to lose my mind.
Schweizer Riesen snow peas growing for seed in late June
What is your most important everyday ritual on your farm?
Breathing. Really, sometimes I can forget to breathe with everything that needs to be
done, yesterday, last week, last year. It used to be that panic would set in deep and stay long. I am happy to report that awe has lately triumphed over the frenetic ("as if possessed by an evil spirit," according to one definition!) pace.
Share: Rowan feeding a carrot to Beaner, the about-25-year-old horse, whose lady friend brought him to pasture this year
On your farm, what is one indulgence you give into?
This year it has been going almost daily to the river. We are all amazed that it has taken six years for us to take a break and revel in the water and wild beauty of the Nooksack, which is only a short walk through the fields or shorter drive down the road. When the temperature soared above 80 (a heat wave around here) and into the 100s, our lunches were long, leisurely, and wet.
Our other indulgence, hiring help! I am daily thankful for Reeb, "our Lady of the Fields," whose incredibly hard work, foresight, and friendship I cherish.
Sunflowers: harvesting for market bouquets in August
You offer a lower income community-supported agriculture (CSA) program through your farm? Tell us about this program and why it's important.
Our CSA is not a CSA in the traditional sense of the concept. Instead of getting paid up-front, we take weekly payments through our "members" EBT (food stamp) cards with an EBT swipe machine that lives in our house (like a credit card machine). It enables those who may not have access to a lump sum up front to still participate in a CSA.
Everyone deserves healthy food regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. This has always been my greatest desire; to both implement the programs and provide access. Because it is a rather simple program to include in a CSA, I have found that many other farms around the country were and are inspired to include a similar model at their farms. The way I see it, this is only the beginning and I am excited to see what other innovative and inclusive ideas creative minds and hearts come up with next.
What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?
I must admit that I do not follow garden blogs, save for Homegrown Evolution. I actually fill my time online looking at design, art, creative and political writing that informs, moves and inspires me. I relish looking at and reading the creativity that bubbles over.
Here are a few:
- Sustainable Eats: Seattle-based local food blog I visit once in a while)
- Grist: Great article in the Food section on Will Allen and Growing Power. I met Will last Fall in Italy at the Terra Madre conference. They do a lot with getting food to all income levels using EBT, etc. Also, an important article called Ask Umbra on Corn Plastic.
- Organic Consumers Association
- Design for Mankind
- Local Harvest and Green People are great sites to explore as well.
- I love Shutter Sisters, Literary Mama, and Hip Mama as well.
- Human Rights Watch and Democracy Now! are important ones.
- Amanda Soule of SouleMama (Portland, ME)
- Andrea Jenkins at hula seventy (Portland, OR)
- Elisabeth Dunker from fine little day (Gothenburg, Sweden)
- Rubyellen Bratcher at Cakies (Southern CA)
- Rachel Denbow of Bling on My Sewing Machine (Springfield, MO)
- Hannah Huffman from huffmania (Kansas City, MO)
- Summer Allen-Gibson from design is mine (Portland, OR)
- Martha McQuade at UNIFORM Studio (Minneapolis, MN)
- Tess B. (Kansas City, MO)
- Mary Tsao (San Mateo, CA) - Nursery Tour
- Hanne Rismyhr (Bergen, Norway)
- Amy Hanson from Sweet Sweet Life (San Diego, CA)
- Stephanie Congdon Barnes of 3191 Miles Apart (Portland, OR)
- Benita Larsson of Chez Larsson (Stockholm, Sweden)
- Lori Joy Smith of LoriJoySmith.com (Charlottetown, Canada)
- Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks (Houston, Texas)
- Carey P. (Northern CA) - Garden Tour
- Amy Furstenau of Everything I Love (Salt Lake City, UT)
- Rachel Saldaña of Buttons Magee (Kansas City, MO)
- Sharilyn Wright of lovelydesign (Burnaby, Canada)