By Jennifer Belknap
A Word About How We Farm
Since day one, we have been certified organic. Our aim is to create a healthy soil, which will then yield healthy food. We use cover cropping, careful crop rotation, fallowing (resting the land) and proper fertilization with only natural ingredients to build a healthy soil and reduce the presence of disease and pests. We are surrounded by wild hedgerows, hay fields, a creek, woods, and like-minded, responsible neighbors which helps keep our fields protected and clean.
Rising River Farm began in 1994, on land leased from a fellow organic farmer and good friend, Betsie DeWreede of Independence Valley Farm. After working on her farm for 3 years, Jim and 2 other inspired and hardworking guys, Chris Farmer and Tom McRoberts, started their own 3-acre CSA and market farm. Back then, the tools were simple, tractors borrowed, and the housing was funky- a school bus and trailers, to be exact. At one point the “office” was the back of an old pick-up.In 1995 Tom headed back to Alaska, his home state, and Jason Summers joined Jim and Chris.
For two more years they honed their skills and established a solid customer base. In 1997 Jason and Chris both had other callings and moved on from Rising River and then I (Jennifer) stepped in to take their place. We kept to our 3 acres and took on 2 apprentices. The following winter our son Cylas was born adding a whole new element to our farming.
Over time we slowly increased our acreage to 10 and bought our own equipment. During that time we got married, had our daughter Hazel, hired more folks and have finally settled into an ideal sized operation. In the fall of 2004 we were lucky enough to buy the 20-acre piece next door. We now own our own home and outbuildings and have an additional 5 acres to put into our rotation, which will allow for even better crop rotation and fallowing.
The success of our farm is due to more than just skill and care on our part. We have many people to thank. Betsie DeWreede has leased us land and equipment (which we eventually bought) and gave us tons of advice and support. Dick and Nancy Erickson have given us a secure, long-term lease on 10 flat and fertile acres right next door. (Being on a flood plain ensures this land cannot be used for anything other than farmland.) Our loyal and enthusiastic CSA members and market customers continue to give us encouragement with their praise, thanks, and helpful feedback.
We greatly appreciate all of our workers over the years, most of whom we are still in touch with and have becomes good friends.
We look forward to many more years of farming for the folks in this community!