Camps Share Their Wisdom.Network! The more people you know the more you will know as you can draw on their experiences. Go to conventions and programs and you are likely to develop new relationships. Go and work with other farmers and help them do what you want to learn. Your network will provide referrals to other people you need to accomplish your goals. Be seen and get associated in other people’s mind with both what you are doing and what you plan to do. You need to know many people. It is the only way your farm will survive. You will need the wisdom of a lot of people with knowledge about many things.
Todd and Melissa Camp of Ciao Bella Farm in central Ohio are both really excited about their farm. While they have many and varied professional interests they also recognize that they have time to develop their farm, their vineyard, and their dream to operate a B&D (Bed and Dinner) which features food and drink from on-farm products. They find this farm venture truly inspiring and know that they will continue to farm. It is who they are.
In 2008 Todd and Melissa planted about a half-acre garden with a goal of selling at a farmers’ market for the first time. They also started some grape vines to plant in the spring of 2009.
To increase the sustainability of their farm, Todd and Melissa made several changes that result from their participation in Wisdom in the Land.
Resources. To protect their garden and large space on the perimeter for grape vines from two deer herds that regularly visit their farm, Camps put in a solar-charged electric deer fence. To train deer to avoid the garden area the fence was baited with peanut butter, and after a few electric shocks the deer developed a new path. The garden is on a 25% sloped hillside on which Camp built raised beds, which they will continue to build up. The beds are plowed and the pathways around them mowed regularly by neighbors. High potency vinegar may be required but no pesticides will be used for weed control. To enrich their soils, Camps started composting getting manure and rotting straw bales from area neighbors, and collecting grass mowed on two acres of their own land. To accomplish the latter, Camps bought a garden tractor and grass catcher. Last year’s garden area was converted to a chicken yard. With an eye toward the future, Camps built a shed that is dedicated to plant propagation. It is equipped with water and lights and is near their house. Ciao Bella Farm is located amidst conventional farms and on a road not far from a busy highway and the garden is visible from the road. Just a year ago when they moved to their farm, Camps knew no one. Farm neighbor and area residents buy eggs and stop by because they are curious about what Camps are doing. Todd’s art studio is visited by home-schoolers and Boy and Girls Scout troops. A conventional farmer and neighbor crop-shares hay raised on their farm, and Camps sold their share in two days through on-line advertisements placed on Craigslist, an online community that features local classifieds and forums for more than 500 cities in over 50 countries worldwide - community moderated, and largely free. Camps experience and appreciate the resource of neighbors and passersby. Todd spends a lot of time waving and energetically shows others what they are doing on their farm, in both cases working to break down any barriers that may exist to their being a true member of their geographic community.
Production. Camps neglected to anticipate the need for irrigation and therefore their produce was delayed and limited the first year. Melissa, pregnant with their first child, was less able to work in the garden than she had anticipated, beginning in June. Both situations adversely affected the quality and quantity of produce. Rather than go to a farmers’ market in 2008 they plant to freeze baby food. They have 25 naturally raised layer hens and operate a self-serve from a refrigerator in their barn. The demand far exceeds their egg supply. The chicken yard is planted with a special mix designed to increase the Omega-3 in their eggs. In 2008, most vegetable seeds and grape vines were purchased directly from Italy. They planted 36 varieties of tomatoes.
Business. Anticipating future opportunities to go to farmers’ markets, Todd and Melissa go to markets every weekend to see what people are selling and how they manage their market site. As both have very demanding summer work commitments other than their farm and are new parents, Camps plan to continue to sell to one area restaurant and to do on-farm sales rather than go to a farmers’ market.
Todd and Melissa Camp
Ciao Bella Farm
2287 Montgomery Rd. N.E.
Newark, OH 43055
Todd and Melissa bought 8.5 acres in 2007 and began raising vegetables, flowers, herbs, layer chickens, and honey for market. They are committed to organic production methods. Their plan is to establish a vineyard, likely low-input rather than organic, producing grape juice on the farm and selling grapes for wine production. Melissa works almost full time as a director of a non-profit farm center and Todd is a practicing artist whose studio is at the farm. The also had lifetimes of small-scale gardening. The Camps became first-time parents in August 2008 and look forward to involving their son in their family farm.