Sowing Our Wild Oats….kind of.

Under Orion Farm - Oat farming

Dad, helping me plow - 1996

It has been an interesting week of  farming related adventures,  Over the weekend, I attended the 23rd  Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) Winter Conference, an annual event that brings together hundreds of organic-minded farmers, gardeners and organizations for workshops, talks and camaraderie in Burlington. As a certified organic farmer of hay and beef, events like these never fail to get me excited and ready for the busy growing season just ahead.

Under Orion Farm - draft horse plowing and oats

Top: Giving Bear and Wolf a snack while drilling oat seed (1995). Bottom: Drilling oats.

One of the most interesting workshops I attended was about growing grains. Hosted by George Wright and Kim MacMullin from Castor River Farm in Ontario,  they grow a variety of grains and raise pigs on their 44 acre farm. George and Kim have developed a successful business model with minimal financial investment by selling only at Farmers Markets with a very customer oriented focus. I loved their energy, their belief that this model could work for many other farmers, and their willingness to share with all of us both during the workshop and throughout the day in one-on-one conversations. I was ready to jump in the car to go visit their farm that afternoon!

In the 1990’s, for six years, Under Orion Farm grew oats for the now defunct, Cabot-based Vermont Cereal Company, that was packaged under the label Eric & Andy’s Home Grown Organic Oats.  Using horses and tractors, we planted and harvested acres of oats. We stored the oats in a high moisture corn silo that we converted by putting in an aerated floor and a high capacity fan for drying.  The resulting cereal, once mentioned in a holiday gourmet gift-giving section in the New York Times, was a thick, chewy meal that was stocked in stores and co-ops across the State.

The oatmeal from Castor River Farm is very good…a reminder of the great rolled oats from Eric & Andy’s and George, with his great energy, got me thinking about growing oats again.  Enjoy the pictures!

Under Orion Farm - growing, threshing oats

Top: Using the combine. Bottom: Arnold helping me unload oats into our aerated silo.

Eric & Andy's Organic  Oats

Our oats! The finished product in an Eric & Andy's Organic Oats bag

back of the bag

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