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Posted 4/25/2016 7:38pm by Shiloh Avery.

The other day, I heard Steven Johnson on the TED radio hour talking about where good ideas come from.  He basically says that no ideas are completely original, but rather build on top of other’s ideas.  He says, you can’t think a thought without echoing someone else.   But that’s not a bad thing!  

So everybody steals, it’s just nice to give credit to those from whom you steal.  So here’s my shout out to Alex and Betsy Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Alamance County.  I worked on their farm some thirteen years ago (yikes!  Has it really been that long?).  This many years later, we’re still, um, “borrowing” ideas from them.  Our farm system looks a whole lot like Peregrine Farm.   

If it weren’t for Alex and Betsy, who theorized that keeping the rain off from tomatoes would increase  yields a bunch, we wouldn’t even have known about a Haygrove.  But because they took that leap years ago and had results to prove its effectiveness, we not only were able to increase our tomato yields with the same system, we use a specialized tool that they had made all those years ago to get ours moved every year.  

Alex and Betsy’s innovation keeps spreading.  A few years ago, Will and Marie of Bluebird farm came to look at our Haygrove tomato system and built a similar structure to shield their tomatoes from the rain.  This year, another friend in Kentucky actually borrowed Alex and Betsy’s tool (still on our farm, but with Alex’s permission) to put up his own Haygrove high tunnel.  He brought the tool back with a bottle of Kentucky bourbon for Alex and Betsy, in gratitude for not only the use of this tool, but for sharing the innovation in the first place.  

That’s what it’s all about.  Mentor farmers sharing problems solved and innovation with the new “crop”.  Where do good ideas come from?  From building on the success and innovation of those who came before us and who have the grace and generosity to teach us new dogs their tricks.  Thanks.


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