Rugged Roots Farm
June 29, 2017
A call to Kelsey Racicot and Alan Wright on a summer evening in June finds them outside working on the one acre of land they call Rugged Roots Farm; Kelsey is busy weeding the corn as a thunder storm can be heard in the distance. The storm is headed their way, and Kelsey notes that summer thunder storms are helpful not only for the rain but also because lightening adds nitrogen to the soil; a beneficial nutrient for healthy plants.
Please tell me about yourselves and how you got started in farming.
Coming out of college we got into farming for a bunch of different reasons; it is mainly the crux of environmental, political, social and international issues. We both have Interdisciplinary degrees in Environmental Studies and Scientific degrees in Forest Management. We are really passionate about homesteading and growing our own food. It started as more theoretical but now that we are doing it we really enjoy it. We are providing the community with healthy and nutritious food while working to improve our land and make it sustainable without the use of chemicals.
How long have you been farming?
We graduated from college in 2010 and moved to Virginia where we were caretakers for the property owned by a woman who is very supportive of sustainable agriculture. She let us farm her property, and that is how we got our start in farming. We later decided that we wanted to be closer to family and so moved to Idaho in October of 2012. We started Rugged Roots shortly after that.
Please describe your farm. Tell me about Rugged Roots.
Our whole focus is on maximum soil fertility. We do a no till system that relies on lots of compost and organic material, and we use an alfalfa mulch based system. Last year 6 tons of alfalfa went onto our one acre of garden, and we find that this composting process creates the finest and most beautifully rich soil. We also just planted an orchard which includes 100 or so apple trees with about 40 different varieties, along with an assortment of other fruit trees.
What is your favorite thing about farming?
Alan – I love the solitude that we are afforded. We get to live on a North Idaho mountain and work outside all day in the most beautiful nature; creeks running and big trees and song birds. We can enjoy all of the beauty that the earth has to offer. Kelsey – There is very little that can meet the satisfaction of going out and picking all of the food that I am going to cook for the night and make a fantastic meal for myself, family and friends to enjoy. The meal does not have to be fancy, but it is so fresh.
Where do you market your products?
We do the Wednesday and Saturday markets in both Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.
Is there a particular product that sells the best?
It really changes. One thing that is popular right now is our greens. We are still a very small farm so our attention to quality and detail is very high. Our greens are really fresh. We find that people go to farmer’s markets and are not focused on a particular item but rather about what looks the most fresh and appealing on that day. What looks the best usually sells the best.
What do you like to do in your free time?
We went to New Zealand surfing last winter. We love hiking and backpacking but don’t get to do a lot of that in the summer because we are here working on our farm. Winter allows us some free time and we like to travel and explore new places.
Interview conducted by Juliana Anderson.