So the county’s agricultural extension director put me in touch with one regional agent who deals particularly with CSA projects, small market gardens, organics and permaculture. This agent comes to our county a day or so every week, and basically can, at any time, schedule with us to come out to the property and teach and advise us on things. For free mind you, because he is paid by the state to do this!
We met him for the first time today, he came out for a couple of hours. He was amazing! Super friendly, energetic, loves his job, loves teaching and is good at it.
He is a 7th generation farmer and has particular background experience in organics, permaculture application, and agricultural sciences. He has had more than one successful farm and homestead of his own outside of his family’s operations he grew up in. He loves wildcrafting medicinal herbs. He has a lot of experience and love for fermentation and other food preservation methods. Even is knowledgeable about proper food handling procedures for being able to sell homemade canned/preserved goods. This guy is a wealth of info and a lifetimes worth of experience. I could have listened to him all day. James was taking notes and even video taped him when he was showing us pruning techniques for the apple trees.
In just 2 1/2 hours he showed us how to get the 100+ year apple trees back into shape, what was wrong with our pear trees, why black walnut can be detrimental to veg gardens, what type of grass we predominantly have and why it is good, how to retrain the overgrown grape vines, how to prune and train the young apple trees, identified the native wild medicinal herb bloodroot we have freely growing in the woods (he really got excited about that!), pointed out sassafras trees and 2 more baby apple trees we didn’t know we had, talked about strategies for the garden with raised beds and cover crops for green compost, told us how to do our soil tests (come to find out we can run the tests for free via the extension office!), discussed management of our raspberry beds, plus talked to us about his personal history and travels and experiences, and learned more about us too.
He will no doubt be an invaluable, immeasurable resource!
That is, provided the state let’s him keep his job. See, he explained to us that with the conservative leaning pendulum swing of the government now, budget cuts are finding many states cutting back their Ag. extension services and agents, some are doing away with the agencies all together even! Which forces farmers to have to pay to consult specialists when they have a question or conundrum arise they cannot solve by their own means.
So, I encourage you to write your local and state governments to speak about your appreciation of extension services, how you recognize its value and importance for supporting your local farmers, and how you hope they continue supporting such programs!