About me and the site
I grew up in mostly small towns and urban areas of the Midwest and Mid -Atlantic states. My parents had vegetable gardens, and I was totally excited to get my first garden tool, a mean looking little hoe with three teeth on one side and a straight hoe blade on the other. I was less excited to actually be useful with it in the garden in those days.
I learned how to cook from my mom and then from books and from lots of practice because I liked to eat and I liked to know how things worked. I raced bikes and wrenched in bike shops all through high school and college. I went to engineering school and got a degree in mechanical engineering because I wanted to know how things worked, and I wanted to build bicycles.
In college I started to get interested in how food got produced. I got off the dorm food plan as soon as I could and cooked all my own food. I went to school in Charlottesville, Virginia and shopped at Fresh Fields, which subsequently got bought by Bread and Circus, which then was bought by Wild Oats, and has now become Whole Foods (or something like that). I bought organic when I could, knowing it was better for the environment, but mostly thinking it was better for the people who were working in the fields. I also shopped at Integral Yoga, which is probably still around, but I didn’t know anything about yoga, other than it existed.
After a year as a mechanical engineer in silicon valley, all the while working on my first garden and in the East Palo Alto community garden, I moved back east and started working on urban agriculture projects in DC. DC led me to Tucson where I learned a little about growing in the desert from reading Gary Paul Nabhan and Native Seed SEARCH.
In 1998 I worked on my first vegetable CSA, apprenticing at Hidden Villa under Andy Scott and participating in the Biodynamic Association of Northern California’s 2 year apprentice training for its first year. Subsequently I worked at Holcomb Farm CSA in Connecticut, Huasna Valley Farm in California, and Sauvie Island Organics here in Oregon.
In 2008 I took a year to travel and work with growers in BC, Hawaii, and help start Skyline Farm here in Portland. A year later I started my own CSA with Slow Hand Farm, putting together a lot of pieces I’ve been wanting to experiment with over the years.
In 2013 Slow Hand Farm I folded into a new project that has become Our Table Cooperative. I continue to work with Our Table as a consultant, consult with other farms, work on tool design and writing.
This site was originally inspired by KenRockwell.com which I found incredibly useful when I was getting back into photography a number of years ago, trying to actually learn something about digital after having given up on my film SLR several years ago. I like websites where there are thoughtful articles on real life experience with equipment and techniques that acknowledge the writer's biases and background and I'm happy to find more and more of them all the time.
Of course it takes some time to put something like this together so I’m doing this slowly, in my spare time, which there always seems to be less and less of. I consider this my web page, which means I write about what I want to write about and give my opinions and my experiences. This isn’t meant to be some kind of scientifically, peer reviewed journal, it’s my opinions. I have a donation link at the bottom of most pages. Don’t feel any obligation, my other work farming and consulting with farmers keeps a roof over my head and a bit of food in the pantry, but if for some reason the donations start rolling in, I’ll definitely take that as a sign that the material is useful and I should put more up.
The written material and photos on this website are not formally copyrighted, but I would appreciate if you treated them that way. I would also love to have folks link to the the materials on the site and share them that way. I’m also pretty generous with sharing materials and appreciate it when folks ask first.
So that’s a bit about the site, or at least the intention for the site. Here’s a little more about the technical details of the site for those interested in how I make things look like this.
I admit it and it's probably pretty obvious, I’m a hack. Someone showed me a little HTML a long time ago, and I really liked the simplicity of Apple’s iWeb application that came with their computers until they stopped supporting it. When Apple dropped iWeb I looked around and found Freeway Express 5.5, which is how the main pages of this site are built. It's a bit more cumbersome than iWeb but it lets me do a few things that Wordpress won't. My old Slow Hand Farm CSA site is on blogger, because that's where I started the original CSA blog. I've also started using Wordpress because it's just so damned ubiquitous and I also like the open source movement. I use that for the blog here, and also for my Farm Hand Carts site and some day I may transition this over, if websites still exisit by the time I get around to it.
When I put together my first website for Slow Hand Farm back in 2008 I looked around at hosting services and was completely turned off by the flashy, low cost, high hype companies I found and so I asked around and decided that the folks at DreamHost seemed like decent folks, and besides they also had green hosting, which sounded good. Check out the little widget at the bottom to find out more about that.
I publish the site to a local folder on my hard drive. I also keep a back up copy or two, especially since I’ve crashed iWeb a couple of times and come close to loosing all of my web pages. I have no idea what would happen if something like blogger, or Wordpress crashed and lost everything, nothing is stored locally. Part of why I use Expressway 5.5 is because I like being able to work on my website off line when I’m traveling, or really anywhere.
For the photo pages I've been using Apple's Aperture, which is also good for organizing photos and allows me to do things I couldn't in iPhoto, like tagging photos. Unfortunately, like iWeb, Apple just dropped Aperture so I'm working from a legacy version.
To get the site up to the web I use Fetch, which is a pretty straight forward piece of FTP software. I’m sure there are better, faster, cheaper ways I could be doing all of this, but this is the way I know how and so it’s how I do it for now.
I'll mention here that at some of the social media sites are starting to look very promising to me. I'm on Facebook and Instagram, but don't focus on farming so much there. That said, I've had some great conversations, particularly on instagram in the comments under photos that have sparked some discussion or another. Maybe some day I'll be a little more farm focused over there.
That’s about it.
I add to this site because I like collecting this information and I’ve found similar sites incredibly helpful. I hope this site is helpful for you, and if it is, please consider a donation to help me spend more time putting up more. Thanks!
other places you can find me