First Year

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019| Tags: farming_solo

Guwaa’dzi! Hi there! I wanted to give a brief introduction of myself and the farm. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Reiden Gustafson and I started Little Sun Farm in 2019. I grew on one-third of an acre the first year (all outdoors) on land leased from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District at the Headwaters Incubator Farm, outside of Portland, Oregon. In 2019 I grew 58 different varieties (24 unique crops) and I sold primarily at two farmers markets (Happy Valley and Hawthorne). The creation of the farm was something I thought about for several years prior. In 2015 I went back to school to study agriculture and organic farming, and was able to weave a few internships on organic vegetable farms into the degree process. I graduated from Oregon State University in 2018 with a BS in Agricultural Sciences and an Organic Farming certificate from Clackamas Community College.

Since my personality type is one that thrives on planning, tracking and decision making, I enjoy having the freedom to run all aspects of the business. Every day offers new and engaging creative challenges. One of my biggest inspirations for the business (and for my life in general) comes from my Native American heritage. From my mother’s side of the family I’m enrolled Laguna Pueblo and also Comanche and Dutch. My father’s side is mostly Scandinavian decent. Having grown up in suburban America in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, I feel honored to have the opportunity to spend time with family on the Indian reservation. My parents and other family members currently live in Paguate, a small Laguna village located just east of Mt. Taylor and an hours drive west of Albuquerque. Knowing that my Pueblo ancestors have lived, farmed and hunted in this arid high desert region for thousands of years, makes the place is very special to me.

People are often surprised to hear that I farm by myself. They ask me “but isn’t it a lot of work?” I sometimes think about how much harder it would be grow food in the desert or without the use of equipment and other modern conveniences (think refrigeration and gas powered vehicles) that I have access to. I usually explain to people that the work can be physically hard, but this fact is offset by how rewarding it is to see produce going home with so many kind and supportive customers. I’ve also invested in the use of tools that make doing the solo farmwork faster and more efficient. For example, I use a drill-powered greens harvester to quickly cut several of my salad mix greens and a paper pot transplanting tool that helps me plant new crops into the ground about five times as fast. This tool also allows the work to be done standing instead of being bent over for hours at a time.

Next year I’ll continue using these tools and others to increase my own efficiency with a goal to have more time for myself outside of the farm (the whole work-life balance thing). In terms of land, I’ll be growing the farm in 2020 ever so slightly to half an acre outdoors plus leasing some space in a high tunnel. For next year, I’m very excited to grow at least 75 varieties and 37 unique crops. I look forward to building upon what I learned in 2019 for an even more productive year in 2020. Dawa’ae (thanks) for following along with me on this journey!


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