My name is Dave Phillips, and I am the owner/proprietor of Big Little Farm, and this is my story:
I have been employed in the television/video production business continuously since 1983, and have worked as a producer, director, editor, writer and cameraman throughout that time, as well as being a very part-time musician. I am married to a NICU nurse, Melissa, and have two dogs : a chihuahua named Squeak, and Haku, a deaf Italian greyhound. We just had to put our beloved cat Thumper down, who was a rescue. The Lord blessed us with him for nine short months.
My freelance work allowed me some spare time to pursue things I was interested in. In 2004, I began to have a calling to farm. This led me to start researching various growing systems, but quickly came around to the concept of organic production, and all that entails. I thus became fascinated with soil biology, and the magnificent biological design embedded in soil which is called the soil food web. This observation of the "invisible" things of soil, along with my faith anchored to the faith of Jesus Christ, has led me to understand the following:
(Romans 1:20, KJV) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
From this Truth, I started my journey into organic production by growing earthworms commercially to harvest their castings (worm poo), which is a very beneficial organic soil amendment. I also gardened, worked as an application tech for Soils Alive in Dallas for a stint (who were also a customer), and became a Certified Organic Specialist certified through the Texas Organic Research Center (TORC), which is spear headed by Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor. Through experimentation and study, things have begun to open up for Big Little Farm. It's a case of preparation + opportunity = improving success. Case in point-
Building Big Little Farm
I met an elderly widowed lady at a church I was attending in 2013. She owned a home in the Mid-Cities area of Dallas/Fort Worth near my home. The home is older, and the lot is very large. Being on a fixed income, she needed help with maintaining her property. It was in a mess, for she had been widowed and on a fixed income at the time for 13 years. She couldn't afford regular maintenance and couldn't afford the occasional landscaping pitfalls that befall a homeowner from time to time. I volunteered to come in to start clearing things up and began to incorporate organic practices on the property. It was my laboratory I had wished for.
After about two years of this cleanup, I asked her if I could raise some crops in her back yard, and she was very agreeable. Since then, so much has happened, I can't begin to tell you, but suffice it to say it's been a win-win situation for both parties: I raised crops on her property to sell and share and to experiment with, and she gets free landscaping care, free vegetables, and a friend coming by often to check in on her.
At the same time, I began in 2014 my spraying program, purchasing first a vortex brewer, and then a spray rig. Treating homeowner's yards was where I started, but eventually moved into large acreages of pastures and hay.
All of these experiences, all of this learning, has been quite fulfilling. I have gone down several rabbit holes to find strong research, helpful techniques and crazy ideas. Some of these rabbit holes were fruitful, and some were not. But they have all added up to fill that cup of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. And peace. However, the cup has but a few drops in it. I have much to learn, but also much to share.
I get a lot of excitement and joy sharing information and the fruits of my labor. I welcome feedback and dialogue. I have recently started up my blog, and will soon share links, videos, suggestions and information about this whole organic management process. I am also planning to expand the enterprise in the near future by purchasing farmland in somewhere here in Texas. Stand by for that.
Thanks for stopping by. Drop me a line if you care at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and grace to all of you.
The above picture is my backyard garden as of Nov. 19, 2021. It contains butter crunch lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard greens and two varieties of chard. This past fall I decided to try an experiment in growing the garden, and I think I have found pretty good permanent success.
As you can see, this plot is composed of wood chips. As wood chips break down, they also begin to attract mycorrhizal fungi. This fungi extends strands (hyphae) of fungi throughout this whole network of chips, and eventually creates a symbiotic relationships with the plants in the garden. The fungi provides easy access to plant food, and in turn the plant roots give off exudates which feeds the mycorrhizal fungi.
Secondly, in between the "framework" of wood chips I put a soil/compost blend to plant in. Those rows are about 8 inches deep, and three inches deep or so I put down a layer of biochar. I hypothesized that the roots would grow into the biochar layer and massively increase the root density of the plants. This in turn results in denser, more tasty and nutritious produce. And voila! That's what happened.
Unfortunately, a deep, hard frost wiped out most of the crops, even using floating row cover. The spinach and some arugula is all that's left, but it's thick, dense and quite tasty! From this back yard garden, I was able to harvest nearly 10 lbs. of greens and salad greens each week until the freeeze hit. This plot totals only about 375 sq. ft.
This is an example of ensuring a stable food supply for you and your family in these hard times, which are just going to get worse, in my humble opinion. I can help you, too to accomplish this in many different ways.