Know your farmers − Paul Glowaski, Dinner Bell Farm
Five friendly questions to help you get acquainted
Ever wonder who’s growing or raising all of our incredible food at BriarPatch? One of the best parts of Sierra Harvest’s Food and Farm Conference was getting to meet so many of our farmers in person. And it turns out that they’re not super human after all—even though they work sunup to sundown, don’t take vacations, and often spend more time with soil and livestock than with other people. If you haven’t had a chance to meet them yourselves, we thought we’d help put a face to the farm by featuring one of them in each of the next four issues of The Vine.
Q: Where’s your farm and what’s the acreage?
A: In Chicago Park. We manage right around 35 acres and we mostly grow cut flowers and raise meat pigs, but we do grow some vegetables, and we’ve always been really grateful to work with David and the [BriarPatch] team. It’s amazing what the BriarPatch has done. It’s a ton of work.
Q: If we opened the door to your barn, what would we see?
A: If you threw open the door to the barn this time of year you’d see a bunch of straw. We’ve gone through 100 bails this winter bedding down the pigs, because we don’t keep our pigs in a barn. Our pigs are out on range all year-round. In the summer, you have to think about shade, but in winter we’re always bedding them down. Last year we went through 100 bails for the winter. This year we went through 100 bails by the beginning of January.
Q: What do you drive?
A: Let’s see…so we drive an old F250 flatbed Ford International engine that was built in Ft. Wayne, Indiana where I was from, so that’s our farm truck. I’m an organic inspector too—so off farm we drive a Prius with almost 250,000 miles on it.
Q: What’s your best ranch hand that’s an animal?
A: Oh gosh…easiest question you’ve asked. I work with a dog named Potts, and she’s a small Border Collie. She’s my shadow. She never leaves my side when I’m out in the field. If you’ve ever tried to get a 600 pound pig to move, you’ll see that it really has no mind to do what you want. We herd animals, we work together, and we’re able to move them across the farm. I always tell people, best employee ever, no sick days, never complains, and small chow bill. Yeah, so she’s amazing.
Q: What’s in the fridge?
A: Tons of food from the BriarPatch. This time of year, we always have lard from our pigs in the fridge, so that’s how we cook our eggs. We use the stock from our pigs—we like to make bone broths and stuff like that, and then as many vegetables that we can get our hands on this time of year. We have a CSA share with Foothill Roots and so we get a weekly box of vegetables from them.
Q: What’s the best season at the farm?
A: We’re spring and fall people. It’s such a glorious time to be farming. Spring has so much potential but fall is so rewarding. You know, really celebrating your work and your bounty, all the people you fed and stuff like that. Fall’s kind of our favorite.
Q: What’s a fun fact about your farm?
A: The best part far and away is our two-year-old son Yoshi, that’s runnin’ the show out there these days. He’s the best, and he’s actually what has made farming fun again for me. You know, because you work for so many years and, yeah it’s when you have a kid out there and they’re drinking the water from the farm, and able to eat the food and interact with that place. I mean, that’s what makes it amazing.
Dinner Bell Farm is a food production farm on 35 acres of land in the Sierra foothills. www.dinnerbellfarm.com