Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Visit to Tierra Miguel Farm

This weekend, we did something neither of us had ever done before. We went to the source of our food to see where it grows. The farm we get our CSA boxes from, Tierra Miguel, had their monthly open house this Saturday and we made the trip down to their land northeast of San Diego to check it out. Driving down the 60 we got stuck in traffic several times and passed two reservations and several casinos on the way to the farm. It was funny to think that our vegetables make the same journey every week. When we arrived, we saw the chickens, from whom we will soon get eggs, scampering about in their tented enclosure. They can range outside of the structure into a sort of a pen but they didn't want to. Then, we got a farm tour. Organic farming is a lot of work! The weeding, which there is a ton of, is done by hand at Tierra Miguel. One of their other challenges is dealing with squirrels and with rodents in general. One strategy is to encourage an owl to live on the farm which will prey on rodents. One of the pics is of the owl house they built. The second strategy is apparently a biodynamic practice. You shoot or otherwise kill a squirrel, then skin it, then you grind up the skin and you boil it. The resulting substance is put down the squirrel holes to discourage them from mating. Over four years this is supposed to reduce the squirrel population. Another biodynamic strategy we learned about involves the horn of a lactating cow. You take the horn of a lactating cow and you bury it, then you dig it up and pulverize it into a kettle (cauldron?) of boiling water. You stir the water in a particular way to create a vortex. Then you go around the farm and sprinkle the cow-horn liquid on the plants to encourage their growth.

I had no idea biodynamic farming and witchcraft had so much in common, or that in some sense, our strawberries were not quite vegetarian -- they had been sprinkled with lactating cow horn water. I must say though, those strawberries are the best I've ever had!

We got to pet the farm dog and the farmers made pizza in a brick oven outdoors at the end of the tour for the potluck dinner. Tierra Miguel has lots of land they are not yet cultivating, some of which may be available to Somali immigrant farmers they are currently working with at a community garden in San Diego. They're also working with the local school district (and selling them broccoli), and doing lots of other interesting projects.

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