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Old Ways, New Faces (7)

 

A sold-out stand during their first visit surprised them both. “It cost $5 to rent the space for one day, and we made $6.50,” recalls Rob. “And we thought, ‘Hey, we turned a profit!’”

With that small victory, the pair began to imagine organic farming as a way of living out their ideals as educators committed to sustainability.

A computer scientist by training, Rob is equally at home wrestling a tiller through the black loam in early spring and herding a group of biology students along the edge of his fields while explaining the principles of crop rotation.

The wit of this voracious reader of cartoons is apparent in the farm’s name, a play on the French word for “fake” that also alludes to the skulk of foxes living on the farm when he and Tammy first arrived.

Shifting from gardening to farming has been a reality check for the Fauxes.

“We used to go down to the nursery and buy all the surplus plants at half price when they were half dead and try to nurse every single one back to health,” says Rob.

“But as farmers we’ve had to learn how to give up on crops that aren’t going to make it because if we try to save them, it’s going to cost us somewhere else.”

As a programmer, he says he could always ask for an extension if he wasn’t finished writing code, but nature sticks to stricter deadlines for planting and harvest.

After weathering several years at the Waverly market when a rainy day could mean hundreds of dollars less in sales, Rob and Tammy decided to focus solely on their CSA program and organic poultry, which includes bronze turkeys, Muscovy ducks, and meat chickens, as well as eggs from their laying hens.

Weighing the trade-offs of increased payroll against the potential benefits of greater yield, the Fauxes capped their CSA membership at 120 subscribers.

To avoid debt, they converted two riding lawn mowers to small tractors, and, after replacing the roof of one barn, they demolished another that proved too costly to fix.

With only a few part-time staff during the summer, Rob and Tammy need all the help they can get when the weeds multiply.

A scheduled work day on their farm brought three extra pairs of hands when the Gang of Four set to work clearing one of 11 plots, each roughly 10,000 square feet.

(Read more Old Ways, New Faces)

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