Our 2014 Ogallala Commons Community apprenticeship offers work experience in local food production, the development of a farmers market and a CSA in Tulia, Texas, building of partnerships with other vegetable producers, professional skill building, and the strengthening of a current business plan.
One of our main objectives and outcomes of our apprenticeship is to do research and secure information to help launch a seasonal high tunnel program through the NRCS program. This program consist of a four year government program that helps the farmer to extend his growing season through the use of high tunnels. For example, I can plant my seeds or transplants into the ground during March instead of late April. It also allows the farmer to produce later into the season as well. Over all the lengthening of the growing season allows the producer to have a larger window of production, which gives the community a longer period of fresh produce.
We will also be working with the WT Enterprise Center to help improve our marketing strategies, and social media skills. Lately we have been working directly with Matty McLain of the EGD to strengthen our business plan and marketing possibilities. The use of the Go Texan Program and Facebookhas currently been our best marketing tools so far.
Ashley and I will be attending other successful vegetable crop producers here in the Llano Estacado to help expand our knowledge of other crop production methods. Currently we have visited Justin Trammell’s farm outside of Canyon, Texas. His knowledge in sustainability and conservation has been ahuge help to MV Produce in its current conservation practices.Justin has also introduced us to the idea of CommunitySupported Agriculture(CSA’s) in our area. Currently we have developed a contract for our CSA members here in Tulia. Each contract consist of a 14 week share of 10 pounds of varying produce that is in current production. To help build the relationship between farmer and consumer we will be conducting a field day at our farm to help educate the consumer on our current production methods. This allows the consumer to understand how the produce was produced and the benefits of our IPM practices. Our produce will also be marketed through Mid-Plains Farmers Market that we have helped initiate here in Tulia, Texas. The current Mid-Plains Farmers Market is located in Plainview, Texas in the Gebo’s parking lot on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays as well as in Tulia on Fridays in the Memorial Building Parking Lot. Towards the end of our season we will be attending the Quivira Coalition Annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This meeting is another chance to conduct more peer learning in the vegetable crop production realm, not to mention that these farmers are from all over the United States to talk about how vegetable production is done in their area.