Jeremy Droplet

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since Mar 26, 2012
Central Maine (Zone 4b)
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Recent posts by Jeremy Droplet

Ghislaine de Lessines wrote:This is a surprising problem to me as I know our market is always looking for farmers over the crafters. I'm not sure where the rule comes from but my local market has to have an equal or greater number of farmers to crafters. My understanding is that there are more crafters than there are farmers so the crafters are wait listed until more farmers join!

Another source of customers, besides restaurants and creating your own CSA might be caterers. Find out what they are looking for to get an idea of what the market isn't providing. I once got a caterer very excited when I said I wanted to pasture pigs as there was very little pastured pork on the market at that time. Finding the opportunities might take some work but they are surely out there!

That has been my experience in Maine as well. The markets I vend at serve a MUCH smaller population, and there has been no trouble with saturating the market. New farmers keep popping up, and the markets keep growing year after year. I'm stifled as to how it's possible for 2-3 farms to saturate the market in an area with a population 100 fold greater? I don't think that's the case at all.
3 years ago

Harmony Hunden wrote:Have you looked into a CSA? Or possibly approaching some local health food stores or organic/vegetarian restaurants. Or using the fresh produce to make a cannoned or dehydraitd item to sell. Perhaps it is because I have no land but I would look into other outlets for sales if I were being offered a small farm. What type of produce do you have? Is there extra space to grow feed and forage for ducks for duck eggs or goats or sheep for artesian cheeses? My local farmers market nay has one vendor for both eggs and one for cheese but tons of organic veggies. Also home gardens and community gardens are really trendy right now so I can see why there's less of a need for fresh produce at farmers markets.

My primary market outlet now is CSA. But I always plant in excess of my projected CSA needs. I need a secondary outlet for produce beyond this. Otherwise I end up feeding high dollar crops to the chickens.

I grow intensive vegetables, and there is a 2 acre apple orchard on the property. Value-added is not an option for me as the cost to build a commercial kitchen, cost of DPH licensing, and the liability insurance needed to sale these products in the state exceeds the potential revenues from these products by a few hundred thousand dollars.
3 years ago
Never saw this one coming. I was approached recently to take over operations at a small farm in Massachusetts close to where my family lives. I never thought I'd see myself going back to the state, but the idea of being close to family and bringing an old business back to life has its appeal. The lease on the land is cheap money and the place has boat loads of potential. But, I've run into a roadblock; a situation similar to the one that caused me to leave the state in the first place. No farmer's markets within 30 miles want to take us on as a vendor! We keep hearing the same excuse 'sorry, we already have too many farms'. They want things like lotions, and soaps, and organic dog food. When did farmers become unwelcome at the market??? I have had the exact opposite experience here in Maine. Most all of the markets have been SUPER welcoming and treated us with total respect. They support what we are doing and want to see more like us. What gives? Has anyone experienced this before? I know some states are unfriendly towards local ag, but this blew me away! I'd like to help, but the idea of composting hundreds of dollars of produce every week because we have no other outlet is a no go. Sadly, the owner is aging and seems he will likely give in to the pressures of development and sell the place to someone who will level it and build more high-income housing instead. Too bad.
3 years ago
I'm very interested in this subject myself as it's the exact type of work I'm trying to do. Where I live, lots of folks clearcut and sell off the property for dirt cheap.

In my experience so far, lowlands will remain wet for DECADES after a clear cut if skidder tracks are not dealt with and appropriate earthworks made to curtail water. Without the feeding roots of massive mature trees, the water has to go somewhere. This may not apply in sandy soil areas. But if you're on clay, keep this in mind.

Regrowth will happen on it's own. But it will be limited to whatever seeds are in the bank so to speak, and they may not come up where and how you want them to. Of course you can (and should!) accelerate the process. I would echo other's suggestions of buying a chipper. Get the biggest chipper you can. Use the material for mulch, compost, mushroom culture, etc. There is value there if you're willing to work for it. Inoculating stumps is also a great idea. This works much better if you inoculate within the first season after the cut. Otherwise, you're likely to see lots of turkey tails on your should-be shiitake stumps

And of course, my number one problem...deer. The trouble with planting any seedlings out after a clear cut is getting them above deer browse. Saplings in a clear cut are prime deer forage. I've yet to find a good solution to this problem that won't break the bank. I'd love to hear others' suggestions in this arena.

4 years ago
I have been doing a bit of research on this as I'm preparing for a number of nursery beds come spring time.

Here is a good general overview of nursery planning:

Here is a good PDF from North Carolina state:

And I would highly recommend the book "So you want to start a nursery" by Tony Avent - Amazon link here
This is geared more towards the nursery business but has tons of great info.

And if you're specifically interested in tree culture, an absolute must is the reference manual of woody plant propagation - Amazon link here
4 years ago
I put in a few hundred linear feet of hugel-swale by hand at my place this summer.

I would avoid planting larger trees ON the mounds unless you are talking about a farm-scale sized swale. Larger swales like this would help mitigate any potential washout concerns. If you're on a site with the potential to wash out your swale, you really should consider putting in more swales higher up the slope to slow that water down some. You always want the water to travel as slowly as possible over the landscape. Cover crops, veggies, fruiting shrubs, etc. do really well on the mounds. I plant the trees down slope of the mounds to take advantage of the water inundated into the soil by the swale itself. My site is fairly steep so none of this may apply if you're on flatter ground.

My hugel-swales are small, but fairly close together.

And this last image shows how dense my hugel mounds, swales, and terraces are. With this kind of spacing, I hardly think you'd have any sort of washout concerns.

4 years ago
Jay, thanks for the excellent post.

There seems some contradiction though. You mention needing the threaded rod needing to be bent like an anchor bolt around the rebar to have real benefit in preventing uplift, but are content with gravity alone being enough for a stable structure.

I'm not in a high wind zone, and a moderate seismic activity zone at best. Is gravity alone enough? I think it's pretty unlikely a wind event could knock the structure out of its boots, but I could see even a modest earthquake being enough to rack the structure free if not attached. Keep in mind this is not a "timber frame" so to speak, but more along the lines of a pole barn with girts spanning independently supported poles.

The thought of using the rubber membrane is to stop the wicking of moisture up into the wood. Would it not be successful in doing so? I use 6mil EPDM to do the same thing in preventing moisture from entering the straw wall. I would assume it would work the same way here.
I'm in the brainstorming phase for a small workshop building I'd like to get off the ground this spring. At the moment I'm thinning out a grove of eastern hemlock and have a number of specimens suitable for use in pole-type construction. However, I have no interest in burying the poles below grade as most books on the subject seem to suggest (probably for cost reasons). I'd like to simply attach the poles to poured footers instead. Searching around the internet shows lots of options, but I'd rather not have to buy any sort of specialty brackets or standoffs or do any extensive joinery on the poles themselves. I'm also trying to keep the purchased materials to an absolute minimum on the project.

Looking at the relevant page on the simpson strong-tie website (, I see they have standoff bases that are code approved in most situations. This looks like it should do the trick -

Is epoxy really enough to bed the threaded rod into the pole? If this is true, can I simply skip the kit and bed the threaded rod (or rebar?) deep into the pier, and use some doubled up 6mm rubber matting to act as a standoff and moisture barrier? These are materials I have on hand and I really like the idea of not giving any more money to the lumber yards.

R Scott wrote:It looks awesome.

Almost all lumber is junk these days.

Is that concrete or rammed rock in the tires?

So I'm finding. After building a greenhouse, shed, and this building over the past few month; I think I'm done buying conventional lumber for a while.

The footers are rammed with crushed gravel. It's a gravel mix with stones up to 2" that still contains all the crusher fines. Works great as a road base. I pinned 3 rebar spikes though each and poured a cap of concrete to accept the anchor bolts. They are hugely overkill for the size and weight of the building, but it may eventually end up as a shed storing a tractor so it seemed like I may as well go for overkill.

This photo shows the concrete cap being poured in place.

4 years ago
I decided to erect a small greenhouse first with the bow trusses to determine the feasibility of doing a more substantial structure and to work out any potential kinks ahead of time.

I opted to use the same size trusses, 2' OC with a beefed up ridge beam on a pier and beam foundation.

Everything is wrapped with reclaimed polyiso foam.

After playing with the tufftex roofing and comparing the cost to corrugated steel roofing, I opted for the steel. It ended up actually costing less to go with a custom cut length of metal roof than plastic. The metal roof should be good for 30+ years.

It's not quite done yet, but I'm hoping to have it closed in over the next few weeks.

In retrospect, there are a few things I would do differently. For a greenhouse, the metal ribs are a better choice than the wood bow trusses. They will last longer in the high humidity, and the cost is actually cheaper. Most 1x3 lumber is junk, and if you're paying for #1 or #2 clear pine or hemlock, things get expensive fast!
4 years ago